YOUR STORIES: The Tastes of Home -- South Africa
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Monday, October 05, 2015
By Lorraine Merdjan Kushynski
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I’ve lived in three different countries in Africa, and although I’ve been living in the USA for practically half my life now, I still miss Africa’s food and traditions.

As an adult, I travel back-and-forth to South Africa about every six months, so am fortunate to get my fix of the food I miss.


Image of Lorraine Merdjan Kushynski from her Facebook page.


I have childhood memories of huge banana and avocado trees growing in the backyard of my grandmother’s house in Lubumbashi, Congo.  We would climb up the trees daily and have our pick.

A view of the covered market, Basankusu. Photo by Francis Hannaway in Wikipedia Commons. Per the site: I, the copyright holder of this work, release this work into the public domain.


There was also the weekly Saturday early morning ride to the “marche," where we would find delectable fruit and vegetables being sold in the red, sloshy soil. There was frustration over not being able to eat the fruit immediately as we would have to clean everything first with gengin violet.

Now, as an adult, having discovered what places have the best of what I love, I plan my visits to include time for getting my fill of every delectable delight.


Image from Mugg & Bean's Facebook page /Instagram feed.

Mugg & Bean, a coffee shop chain in South Africa, is the only place where bottomless cups of coffee are offered. In general, South African coffee shops serve one cup of coffee only with a small Lindt chocolate or cookie on the side. 

Besides Mugg & Bean's bottomless coffee, their lemon meringue pie is something else -- a four-inch-long slice topped with another four-inch-high topping of meringue can keep you going for a full day.

Image by Borisgorelik in Wikimedia Commons. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2

Zimbabwe has a reputation of having the best beef in Africa. The biltong is a type of jerky that's dried -- wet, medium or dry --  and cut -- shaved, thin or thick -- the way way you like it. Thick-cut beef and ostrich are my preference, and the best I've ever tasted. Biltong can be found everywhere, but the best for sure is out of the butcher shop.

One cannot buy biltong without buying Boerewors, a  spiced, dried sausage that's the best snack!

Canadian Girl Scout via Wikipedia, the copyright holder of this work, release this work into the public domain. This applies worldwide.

The smell and taste of fresh hot fish and chips from local cafes still makes my mouth water!  It comes piping hot, wrapped in newspaper with vinegar dripping everywhere. It's always a race to eat the chips before they got soggy.

Other than fish and chips, South Africa has super fresh fish. My favorites are kingklip and kabeljoe.

Image from Mrs. H.S. Balls Chutney's Facebook page


Also great for lunch is fish paste and Mrs. H.S. Balls Chutney on toasted whole wheat bread. Yum! Chutney is also great in curries or on toasted cheese sandwiches.

Anything with Peri-Peri on it is good. Especially, chicken livers!

Image from Wikipedia, available by Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license per DimiTalen

Tea time is  tradition I miss so much. Most afternoon’s at around 4 p.m. you would get together with friends for “tea” where you catch up, drink tea or coffee with a homemade fresh out the oven melktart or scones, fish paste and marmite sandwiches.

Image from Lorraine Kushynski's Facebook page. This cool "bar" was found in an antique store on Washington Boulevard in Los Angeles.

Around 6 p.m., it would be sundowner time, another tradition where the drinks and “mezes" would come out. On a hot evening, there's nothing better than sitting outside drinking a beer shandy (beer mixed with 7UP); a drink even lightweights can handle.

Image from Appletiser SA's Facebook page

Another great drink during sundowners is Appletiser, a sparkling apple juice that quenches your thirst at the first taste.

Image from

South Africa has the chocolate -- Cadburys. Yes, Cadburys chocolate is carried all over the world, but it doesn't compare to SA Cadburys. The mint crisp my favorite. The smoothness of the milk chocolate melting in your mouth and the rock-like explosions of mint... nothing better.

Home-baked shops, which are scattered all over South African towns, are the best places to find cakes, tarts, cookies, coconut ice (pictured above), fudge and nougat.

Very blurry photo taken by Bekah Wright in Cape Town.

Baked goods are displayed on shelves in blown up plastic bags. I can never leave without picking up a bag coconut ice, fudge or honeycomb coated in chocolate (I'll eat anything with crunchy in it!).

Image from

I can never return to the US without bringing back  fudge or honeycomb coated in chocolate (I'll eat anything with crunchy in it!) or a bag of coconut ice (pictured above). But then there's always Cote D'Or, Ouma's dunking buttermilk rusks, Smarties, chocolate log, Rowentrees, Areo, peppermint crisp, tipsy tarts, malva pudding, triffle... Sigh.

*Editor's note: Thanks for sharing some of your favorite African flavors with us, Lorraine! Stay tuned this week when we feature a little something with you in mind under Good Stuff!












Leave a comment:
Bekah Wright - Hey Kelly!
I've passed your comment on to Lorraine. And we're looking forward to your SECOND story!
Kelly - Love the picture of you from your younger years (I remember that look...always wanted to be that girl!) You have now peaked my interest in travelling to Africa! Sounds like you led...and still lead...and interesting life. (I can tell you are a connoisseur of good food. Lemon Meringue? YUM!!)