South African Food


/Behl Tongue/

“uummmm biltong! Yes that would definitely be one of the main South African aspects of our lives. You know… like dried meat?

Well, honestly its raw meat just dried with spices and its kinda tribal but everyone eats it… White South Africans, Black South Africans. It must have been around for years because well… like I said it’s very tribal, like from the times where they could only use spices to preserve meat. But it’s delicious no matter what! and part of the culture… and its just part of being South African, you know? Like you get excited to eat it because it reminds you of home and of certain occasions specifically. Oh I guess it’d be important to mention its kind of more of a snack food, nothing special or religious about it you know? It’s usually related to the traditional South African BBQ names Braiis, which we usually just had on weekends. Many of my friends here and their families still have Braiis, and you’ll always find biltong there. Okay even though you always will, it excites me every time! It’s not that easy to find here, and it’s just like a memory straight from home, and you can’t even compare it to anything here, not even jerky if you were thinking that. I guess if I think hard about it biltong represents family times for me, it represents something that all south Africans share in common which as we all know is kind of rare at these times. I just love it.“

I could hear the excitement in Ashlyn’s voice when she spoke about this, even though to me it seemed just like simple meat that you could out do anywhere! But then again it got me thinking of Israeli food that I miss so so much. Things that are quite rare to find here like Melauach (fried dough), as well as Jachnun (baked dough that has to be baked for 24 hours), but most importantly biltong and the idea of braiis reminded me of Israel’s most famous BBQ product; pullet I think it would be called in English. It is the most delicious BBQ food ever, but only when made in Israel (or perhaps that is my bias/ national pride). This meat will usually be made on the weekends at BBQs just like biltong, but most importantly it would always be made on Israeli Independence Day and it would always be my favorite part! Perhaps, it is actually somewhat clear to me, that this is why I am so proud of that certain meat products because I would have it on Israel’s nation-state most prideful day. The environment at the Independence Day BBQ just made me full of pride, and to this day still does. It was all about unity, and enjoying everything that makes us Israeli; good food, good music, and of course good company.

When I try and think why it is that traditions like biltong remain, since it is unrelated to any holiday and I have yet to hear that it is the national food or anything of the sort, I can only imagine that it is the aspect of folk recipes itself that is important. It is food that people sit down and unite over, because food causes no arguments and everyone could enjoy it. It is food that is found in both celebrations, and sad occasions. Food is in every aspect of a person’s life, and so it is no wonder that a folk group may use food as a way to identify itself, and it is also no wonder that food may be a source of feeling more at home, even in a strange country. Food is a basic need to us all, but the food we make could say a lot about us, about our daily habits, our preferences, and our view of the world around us (for example vegetarians out saving the world one animal at a time). I believe that learning about other cultures through food is both enjoyable and enlightening.