About regional food and wine in Africa
South Africa doesn't really have a coherent indigenous cuisine, although attempts have been made to elevate Cape Cuisine to this status. The one element that seems to unite the country is a love of meat. It's also well worth paying attention to South Africa's vast array of seafood, which includes a wide variety of fish, lobster (crayfish), oysters and mussels. Locally grown fruit and vegetables are generally of a high standard. There is no great tradition of street food and people on the move tend to pick up a pie or chicken and chips from one of the fast-food chains. Drinking is dominated by South Africa's often superb wines and by a handful of unmemorable lagers. In the cities, and to a far lesser extent beyond them, there are numerous excellent restaurants where you can taste a spectrum of international styles.
Basic Moroccan meals may begin with a thick, very filling soup – most often the spicy, bean and pasta harira. Alternatively, you might start with a salad, or have this as a side dish with your main course, typically a plateful of kebabs – either brochettes or kefta. A few hole-in-the wall places specialize in soup, which they sell by the bowlful all day long – such places are usually indicated by a pile of soup bowls at the front. As well as harira, and especially for breakfast, some places sell a thick pea soup called bisara, topped with olive oil. Another dish you'll find everywhere is a tajine, essentially a stew, steam-cooked slowly in an earthenware dish with a conical earthenware lid. Like "casserole", the term "tajine" actually refers to the dish and lid rather than the food. Classic tajines include lamb or mutton with prunes and almonds, or chicken with olives and lemon. Less often, you may get a fish or vegetable tajine, or a tajine of meatballs topped with eggs.
South Africa is one of the world's top ten winemaking countries by volume. In 2010 it overtook France to become the UK's biggest wine supplier. Despite South Africa's having the longest-established New World winemaking tradition (going back over 350 years), this rapid rise is remarkable for having taken place within the past two post-apartheid decades. Before that, South Africa's isolation had led to a stagnant and inbred industry that produced heavy Bordeaux-style wines. After the arrival of democracy in 1994, winemakers began producing fresher, fruitier New World wines, but many quaffers still turned their wine-tasting noses up at them. It's over the last ten years that things have really started to rev up, and some South African winemakers are developing excellent wines that combine the best of the Old and New Worlds.