Khoisan to thank for love of braai, bil­tong

Na­tion’s meat favourites had prac­ti­cal ori­gins – study

The Herald (South Africa) - - NEWS -

THE Khoisan and slaves are the peo­ple South Africans need to thank for our na­tional love of braai meat‚ bil­tong‚ droë­wors and bredies. Sci­en­tists have traced the de­vel­op­ment of the South African meat cui­sine‚ and have now pub­lished their find­ings in An­i­mal Fron­tiers.

“We have to go back to the days of colo­nial­ism when dif­fer­ent pop­u­la­tions/eth­nic groups with dif­fer­ent in­comes‚ cul­tures and per­cep­tions of what meat is and how it should be pre­pared and con­sumed‚ were in­tro­duced and de­vel­oped in South Africa‚” Dr Sara Eras­mus and Pro­fes­sor Louw Hoff­man, from the Depart­ment of An­i­mal Sciences at Stel­len­bosch Univer­sity, say.

They traced the roots of South Africa’s meat cui­sine back to the Dutch set­tlers‚ Indo-Asian slaves‚ in­dige­nous Khoisan and black African groups.

The re­searchers found that dur­ing the 17th cen­tury‚ coloni­sa­tion and im­mi­gra­tion had the great­est in­flu­ence on our meat cui­sine.

“The early Dutch set­tlers in­dulged in rab­bit‚ beef‚ mut­ton/lamb‚ pork‚ har­te­beest‚ eland‚ wild pig‚ rhi­noc­eros‚ hip­popota­mus‚ steen­bok‚ ys­ter­vark (Cape por­cu­pine)‚ dassie (rock hyrax)‚ wild geese‚ moun­tain duck‚ wild pea­cock‚ ko­rhaan (bus­tard)‚ and dif­fer­ent fish species.”

The re­searchers point out‚ how­ever‚ that meat con­sump­tion in South Africa be­gan long be­fore the ar­rival of the first Euro­pean set­tlers in 1652.

This was be­cause the in­dige­nous Khoisan hunted wild game for their sur­vival.

They said the set­tlers even learnt from the in­dige­nous peo­ple how to source meat through hunt­ing and fish­ing.

“The in­dige­nous Khoisan‚ black African groups and set­tlers trekked across the land and‚ since food was scarce‚ noth­ing of the an­i­mals was wasted – from the meat to the in­testines,” they say.

“Con­se­quently‚ tra­di­tional dishes made from of­fal ex­ist.

“Mala mogodu (a pop­u­lar black African stewed tripe dish) is made from an­i­mal in­testines (mala) and stom­ach lin­ing (mogodu)‚ while the Afrikan­ers make a dish called af­val (of­fal)‚ spiced with curry (ker-rie-af­val).”

The re­searchers say what we know to­day as braai, bil­tong and dried wors can be traced back to the Khoisan, who fire-roasted and air-dried their meat.

A sim­i­lar prac­tice of cut­ting up and dry­ing the meat of an­i­mals was per­formed by ru­ral black tribes.

They point out that the Euro­peans as well as their Indo-Asian slaves im­ple­mented new tech­niques for meat preser­va­tion‚ pro­cess­ing and cook­ing.

The slaves brought with them var­i­ous spices‚ herbs and cook­ing styles which were also quickly in­cor­po­rated into the cui­sine and led to the cre­ation of the Cape Dutch cook­ing style‚ known for its use of spices – cin­na­mon‚ nut­meg‚ all­spice and chili pep­pers.

The Cape Malay peo­ple brought an In­done­sian flair with their spicy cur­ries which con­trib­uted to the cre­ation of typ­i­cal dishes such as bredie, pick­led fish and bobotie, while the 19th-cen­tury In­dian labour­ers also in­tro­duced cur­ried meat dishes to South Africa‚ the re­searchers said.

“Bredies [stews] were also de­vel­oped through the need to ten­derise the tough meat of cat­tle ob­tained from the Khoikhoi‚ while the in­clu­sion of curry and spices was par­tic­u­larly use­ful to dis­guise slightly tainted meat.

“Spices‚ salt and vine­gar were also used to pre­serve meat and led to the cre­ation of prod­ucts such as boere­wors.”

Who will in­flu­ence fu­ture food trends is moot.

The re­searchers say: “Al­though meat re­mains deeply rooted in the South African her­itage . . . its de­mand con­tin­ues to be largely in­flu­enced by avail­abil­ity‚ price‚ tra­di­tional us­age and the con­sumer’s as­so­ci­a­tions and per­cep­tions.”


TRA­DI­TIONAL WAYS: KhoiBush­men Lib­er­a­tion Walk­ers Ben­jamin Michaels, left, and Chief KhoiSan will start their walk from Port El­iz­a­beth to Pre­to­ria on Mon­day, for the rights of the First Na­tion, the KhoiSan

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