What’s there to eat here?

I had an old friend reach out to me through my blog and ask what are the interesting staples from the grocery store here.  I thought this would be a very good blog to write since I find food culture so interesting.  So, thanks, Brady, for the suggestion!

Honestly, I don’t know what the staples are, but there are some very different things than what I am used to here in the grocery stores that are commonplace.  When I go to the store, I still kind of flock to what I know, but I have dipped into the South African delicacies from time to time!  Here’s what it is like for me at the grocery store:

This is where I grocery shop….I know it’s a department store…


But inside the department store is this:


I have mentioned before that everything in South Africa is in some kind of mall, for the most part.  And you have to pay to park, but at this particular mall, if you are in and out within 30 minutes during the week, parking is free!  Needless to say I am The Flash at the grocery store, but today I took my time just for you!

This grocery store is one of the nicer Woolworths close to me and has the biggest selection.  Aside from the Whole Foods I shopped at back home, this store is actually nicer than the “regular” grocery stores I frequented.  And on this particular trip I picked up a swimsuit top along with my groceries 🙂

I love this grocery store.  They tell you where their food is sourced, how it is sourced, etc.  It’s very clean, and tidy.  They have gotten rid of or limited their stock on a lot of foods that are or are perceived to be bad for you.  It really helps limit the temptations.



Here are some of the things they have in the grocery store that I had never heard of and/or eaten:

These are Boerewors sausages, pronounced “burr – re – vors”.  The one that says “Braaiwors” is the same thing, but it’s advertising that it would be good on the braai (African BBQ grill).  These are very popular sausages here – they are at every braai.  I don’t particularly enjoy them because the seasoning in the meat has clove spice in it, and I don’t enjoy clove.  That’s my only reason.


Ostrich is a pretty popular meat in the grocery store.  Comes in fillet, mince, etc. just like any other meat.  It is actually quite good.  When I first heard of it and saw it in the grocery store, I didn’t expect it to be so dark in color, almost resembling beef.  Ostrich is VERY lean and VERY low in cholesterol, so Jamie and I actually eat it in mince form a lot.  I put it in chili, tacos, etc.  I actually made some ostrich tacos for my super-picky-eater mom when she was here and she liked them a lot!  I would say it subs for beef here like turkey does in the U.S., but I actually enjoy the taste of ostrich better, to be honest.  Right now the stores are low on ostrich.  Not sure what the deal is.  But here, the grocery stores are sometimes just out of stuff, even staples…



Like bread…


Sometimes when it’s out it’s out and you don’t know when it’s coming back.  Coriander leaf here is the same thing we call cilantro and it is out ALL THE TIME.  I never get to buy fresh coriander leaf.  Same goes with a lot of other fresh herbs.  I had to buy freeze dried ones, which I would rather not.  Maybe I should just start an herb garden.  Anyway…here are our meat and fish markets…



We don’t have a big selection of fish here in Joburg and I am not sure why.  Almost everything is imported so they have been previously frozen, which I usually shy away from.  But we have salmon (Norwegian), tuna (Mozambique), sole (Alaskan).  Some new fish types for me were Hake and Kingklip.  Hake, yes, Kingklip, no.  Hake is just a mild white fish and Kingklip is a type of eel and smells horrible.  No thanks.  I normally buy this Hake at Woolworths and we love it, it’s just breaded white fish:


Another really good thing South Africa makes is biltong.  It looks like beef jerky, but it is so much better!  It tastes fresh and chewy and delicious.  It’s everywhere here, but I actually think Woolworths is some of the best.  It is also made with various game meat – at home we have some from a place called The Butcher Shop that is Impala, a type of antelope.


Here is a small section of the bakery in the store.  It was quite picked over today, but those chocolate covered donuts over there are DIVINE!  Had to give them a shout out.  Pastries in South Africa are pretty on point.  Haven’t had one in a WHILE since I’m watching what I eat, but so far I haven’t met one I didn’t like.


Texas in the house!  Except the flavors of “crisps”, as they call them here, are not the best, in my opinion…


A very main staple in South Africa in every restaurant and every grocery store I have gone to is a Louisiana native.  Shockingly enough, this Avery Island gem is a favorite for everyone.  And as you can see the green jalapeño one is out…


This is the extent of their Mexican section of the store.  Woolworths normally carries their own brands, so that’s what you see here.  The other grocery store, Pick N Pay, has Old El Paso brand taco and burrito kits if you really need a fix.


These always make me laugh when I see them.  I’m not going to lie, they are quite tasty and when you need an “American Hot Dog Sausage” fix, look no further!  But, I have to think, when they say they are “American”, do they mean they are grossly processed like American hot dogs?  I think they do…bon appetit!


South Africa makes exceptional wines on the Western Cape and Woolworths has a pretty decent wine shop in the grocery store.  Next time you are at Specs or your local wine shop, try some South African wines.  You will thank me.


Another thing I forgot to photo was pap.  Pap is a fine corn powder that is kind of like grits, but stickier.  It is good and is good served with stewed meat.  But I would serve stewed meat over grits, too, so you can pretty much picture pap as grits.  They also have a dish here that is called “samp and beans” – the best thing I can compare it to is hominy (corn variation) and beans.  I have never had it, but apparently it is pretty good served with lamb.  Lamb is another meat that I don’t see a lot in Texas, at least where we lived, but here it is everywhere and in every form.  Indian cuisine is also extremely popular here.  South Africa has the second largest population of Indians, next to India.  So there are Indian restaurants everywhere and the grocery stores have huge sections dedicated to Indian cuisine.

Well, that is pretty much what the grocery store has here!  It really is no different to the U.S., only some things may be called different things so you kind of have to figure that out on your own.  Hope you enjoyed the read!

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