Later, biltong and beskuit became popular snacks among the original pioneers, proving to be a firm favourite among South Africans to this day.
Nearly 200 years after the Portuguese first arrived in South Africa, the Dutch settlers, or Boers, built the first European settlement at the Cape of Good Hope in 1652. The Dutch planted gardens with pumpkins, watermelons, cucumbers, pineapples, and potatoes. Meanwhile, the Dutch East India Company increased trade between South Africa, Europe, and India, bringing new and unfamiliar people and cuisines to South Africa’s culture. Slaves from the East, mostly from Malaysia, helped work as farmers or fishermen, bringing with them various spices that added flavor to commonly bland Dutch and English stews and dishes. Other countries also brought diversity to South African cuisine.
The French, known for making wines, began establishing vineyards, while the Germans introduced baked goods and pastries and the British brought meat pies. Foods from India, China, and Indonesia also influenced the South African diet.
The great mixture of cultures makes for a wide variety of food choices in the country, from the traditional food of various cultures to the cosmopolitan cuisine that is available in many large cities throughout the world. African food is centered on vegetables, with maize (corn) as an important staple, often in the form of a porridge known as mielie pap.
Dutch and English settlers introduced sausages and bobotie, a meat pie made with minced meat that has been cooked with brown sugar, apricots and raisins, milk-soaked mashed bread, and curry flavouring. The Portuguese introduced various fish dishes to the country, while the Indian influence added spices and even samosas. With all our influences, it is no wonder we are called the rainbow nation, offering a melting pot of flavors and cuisines for every palate.