Friends for overseas always ask me, ‘what is traditional South African cuisine?’ and whilst a standard ‘traditional’ list of foods exists, under which stuff like Bobotie falls, I more often than not reply ‘meat’. South Africa is a definite contender for the meat capital of the world!
My response is by no means a fib, as one thing which South Africa does better than anywhere else I have ever been is meat; both in terms of quality and the amount. You can literally walk into a Woolworths (the equivalent of say Marks and Spencer in the UK) and pick up a very decent half beef fillet of say 900 grams, which can easily feed 4 people (and some) and pay in the region of about £15.
This value for money is echoed when you come to dining out. Kream, one of the top fine dining restaurants in the Pretoria area (Brooklyn) serves a fillet camembert (approximately 300 grams) for R129 (at the time of writing). In my mind this is incredible! Actually, let’s say mind blowing, considering the reputation of the restaurant! My friends who have visited from the UK, also chuckle slightly and shake their heads when it comes to settling the bill.
Back in the UK, a steak for your pub lunch/dinner without the word ‘fillet’ attached to the front of it, would cost you about £20-£25 for a reasonable piece of beef. Start attaching the words ‘Angus’ or mentioning more choice cuts of the meat and the price moves up a notch. Fillet steaks I have never eaten when out at a restaurant in the UK, so wouldn’t know where to start when it came to listing a price.
On my honeymoon to the US, I thought that the country, which I have visited many times in the past, might fare a little better with the quality and quantity of meat (beef) which you could get for your buck. This was a slightly misguided notion, as the good restaurants (selected from listings on Trip advisor) failed to come close to quality and value which I have now come to expect from my short time in South Africa – rather stick to the Tuna steaks or baby-back-ribs when and where available :-).
If your love of meat extends to other animals, lamb from the Karoo area of South Africa is excellent, ‘game’ meat is varied and plentiful, and chicken (if you speak to a proper Boer) should be reserved for the vegetable portion of your meal.