The cold weather has got us by its icy grips and there’s one thing that South Africans turn to for solace from the cold.
It’s what we lean towards when we’ve had a day straight from hell. If you’re in your feels about the stresses of life or if the winter blues have got you good, and all you want is to collapse onto the couch with a tray of freshly baked brownies.
Kaya Drive with Sizwe Dhlomo once again gets listeners to confess the edible pleasures we are weak for, but this time asking if we have a specific go-to winter comfort food.
Psychologists say we crave the comfort of food when we feel emotional or stressed because of our social connection to particular foods. The nostalgia of a favourite family meal or feeling when you first tried chocolate (insert your favourite snack or food here) is something we are in search of when we feel down.
It’s also linked to the people with who we shared that meal for the first time. In other words, human beings tend to equate happy memories with food. This is how we remember a good or bad experience. Which may explain the notion of stress eating.
South African food culture
South Africans definitely have a huge food culture, we love sharing meals with friends and loved ones. In many cultures, food is an expression of love and this is why comfort food makes us feel better, even if we’re not hungry.
There are many who swear by family recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation but with our health obsession, there are now twists on traditional comfort food recipes. Including beetroot, baby marrows, carrots, avocado and other veggies and fruit into dessert recipes means fewer calories but promises no compromise on taste.
Here’s a list of South Africa’s favourite comfort foods:
Devoured with atchar, polony or preferably mince, these light and fluffy balls of fried dough are a firm favourite. Living up to its name, “vetkoek” it literally translates to the fat cake. You can also serve these with apricot jam but the savoury fillings and atchar are every South African’s favourite.
Shisa Nyama/ Braaivleis
South Africans love their meat, and we love braaied meat even more. All year-round, rain or shine, if you have an indoor braai or ventilated patio, nothing stops us from char-grilled meat perfection. Boerewors, “tjops” (chops), steak, chicken, pork, the more variety the better the braai.
There’s been social media panic after local celebrities, chefs and home cooks shared their modern way of serving this much loved staple during lockdown. We’ve seen it with pretty much every cuisine around the world and some things are just better left untouched. If it isn’t broken why fix it right? You can serve pap with chakalaka (another South African favourite) or gravy.
Samp and beans to the un-initiated. A meal that is said to have been a favourite of the late Nelson Mandela himself. It’s great with stews but can be served any way you please.
Nothing beats a potjie with friends and family. Bringing everyone together over food cooked on open coals, in a cast iron three-legged pot, the potjie is a South African tradition. Potjie’s are traditionally stewed meat and veggies but there are so many South African recipes for a “lekker” potjie that it can be enjoyed no matter the season. There are even Indian curry versions which takes being South African and loving flavourful, spicy food to a new level.
Different parts of the country, have their own unique way of preparing stewed tripe. Enjoyed practically everywhere around the world from France, to China this South African delicacy is slow-cooked for hours until tender. Usually served with fermented stiff porridge called ting.
Other South African comfort foods include:
- Chicken feet
- Chicken livers
- Milk Tart
- Malva Pudding
- Bunny Chow
What are your favourite comfort foods and how do you feel when you eat them? Share with us by tweeting @Kayaon959 using the hashtag #KayaDrive