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Potjiekos, literally translated “small pot food”, is a stew prepared outdoors in a traditional round, cast iron, three-legged pot. This one is being cooked on a barbecue. Cookery practised by indigenous people of Africa such as the Sotho- and Nguni-speaking people. In the precolonial period, indigenous cuisine was characterised by the use of a very wide range of foods including fruits, nuts, bulbs, leaves and other products gathered from wild plants and by the hunting of wild game. In many ways, the daily food of South African families can be traced to the indigenous foods that their ancestors ate. The vegetable is often some sort of pumpkin, varieties of which are indigenous to South Africa, although now many people eat pumpkins that originated in other countries. Rice and beans are also very popular even though they are not indigenous.
Another common vegetable dish, which arrived in South Africa with its many Irish immigrants, but which has been adopted by South Africans, is shredded cabbage and white potatoes cooked with butter. For many South Africans meat is the centre of any meal. The Khoisan ate roasted meat, and they also dried meat for later use. As in the past, when men kept cattle as their prized possession in the rural areas, South Africans have a preference for beef. A very distinctive regional style of South African cooking is often referred to as “Cape Dutch”.
This cuisine is characterised by the use of spices such as nutmeg, allspice and chili peppers. Bobotie is a South African dish that has Cape Malay origins. It consists of spiced minced meat baked with an egg-based topping. Of the many dishes common to South Africa, bobotie is perhaps closest to being the national dish, because it isn’t commonly found in any other country.
French Huguenot refugees from persecution, brought wines as well as their traditional recipes from France. Indian labourers brought to South Africa in the nineteenth century. Mageu is a traditional South African non-alcoholic drink, popular among many of the Nguni people, made from fermented mealie pap. Home production is still widely practised, but the drink is also available at many supermarkets.