indigenous people had lived off the fat of the land and the sea since the Stone
Age and what little is known of their lifestyle, has mostly been gleaned from
the rock art of the Bushmen who painted on the walls of caves using naturally
(Bushmen) and Khoi (Hottentots) - collectively referred to as the
Khoisan - were hunter-gathers whose diets were rich in meat, insects and
fynbos. The Khoi then learnt about animal husbandry and gravitated towards the
rich grazing lands of the southern Cape.
Strandlopers ('beach walkers') are said to be outcasts of the Khoi community
who survived purely on the fruits of the sea and certain root vegetables.
Tragically, very few of these ancient tribes still exist as most have been
absorbed into the rest of the population.
In 1652 Jan
van Riebeeck of the Dutch East India Company was sent on a voyage to
establish a refreshment station for their ships at the 'Cape of Good Hope'. The
Cape's newcomers learnt much from the innate hunting and gathering skills of the
indigenous people, and it was here that a multi-ethnic cuisine began to emerge.
settlers imported slaves from Java and it was the Malay's intimate
knowledge of spices and fishing that was to have the most profound influence on
Cape cooking. The Malay's were one of the few groups of settlers who, in spite
of mixing with other cultures, have rigidly adhered to their Muslim faith and
culture. Distinct Malay areas still exist in the Cape.
French revolution (1688-1690), protestant Huguenot refugees fleeing from
persecution escaped to the Cape bringing with them rootstock, viticultural
practices and culinary finesse.
assumed rulership of the Cape in the late 1700's and established a strong
liberal tradition that characterizes Cape Town to this day. Their contribution
to the food scene included the likes of pies, hot puddings and roast meats.
Dutch East India Company initially established a trading station at the Cape
they had no intention of allowing it to become a colony. However, as demand for
food exceeded supply they assented to Europeans establishing farms. From this
European community developed an independent people who regarded the Cape as
their home. When the British established rule they distinguished themselves from
the English by the name Afrikaners and, in reaction to British liberalism,
developed a culture of their own. Many of these Afrikaners left the Cape
in 1840 on the Groot Trek (Great Trek) to establish new republics beyond British
In the mid
1800's when the British began establishing sugar cane plantations in KwaZulu
Natal, slaves were brought in from India as labourers for the plantations. The
Indians stayed on after their contracts expired and both Hindu and Muslim
people introduced spices and curries to the scene.
immigration plan around the same time saw an influx of Germans to the
country, bringing with them recipes for sausages and hearty casseroles. Many of
these German immigrants later relocated to Nambia.
such as the Xhosa, Zulu, Sotho and Tswana have contributed a variety of
wonderfully unique dishes and the likes of pap (maize-meal porridge), samp and
beans, mopane worms, morogo and sheep's heads are surely not found on any other
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