SOUTH AFRICA: When History is Food
Marty Martindale

South Africa’s history is one of much hunger caused by fractured populations and human causes. Human-caused mass starvation come about  as a result of population displacement, interruption of transportation systems, absent populations due to wars, and the sudden influxes of people to a land where food was short to begin with.

Geographically, the country of South Africa has a terrain which is divided into thirds: plateau country to the north, a great basin south of it, then this is rimmed by a narrow coastal plain bounded by the Indian Ocean on the east and the south Atlantic Ocean on the west. The population of South Africa, is over 43 million people.

Her history is very mingled with her cuisine today. At the southern end of South Africa, the African continent is the Cape of Good Hope where sailors from all countries had to sail through to gain access to Asia. Early Dutch settles arrived at the Cape 1652 chiefly to grow fresh vegetables for fellow sailors passing by in the future, that they might fight off scurvy when enroute to and from the Dutch East Indies. By 1688 the French Huguenots arrived bringing grape cuttings for wine, plus fresh herbs.

In the 1700’s the Dutch imported slaves from Indonesia and with them their tropical spices. Later, the British came who transported indentured workers from southern India and with them came their chutneys, sambals, and atjars and other fiery and savory cuisine. The British and Germans contributed their meat pies and sweet pastries.

Now, with the Boer War, then the rigors of apartheid behind them, South Africans, with first president Nelson Mandella and now his hand-picked successor, Thabo Mbeki look toward to postive growth and new freedoms in a promising future. Continue reading