Our South African Journal

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Food in South Africa. We have only been here a month now but I am beginning to learn a little about the food here. When I first went shopping here I was a little bewildered about what to get. I am not familiar with most of the brands and when I find an American brand it is usually really expensive.
One of the first things I bought was peanut butter and jam. I wasn't worried about the jam but I was a little worried about the peanut butter. There are brands in the US I don't like so I can be picky about PB. However the brand I picked up (Pot of Gold) is very good so I will be a loyal customer. On my first shopping trip I picked up some Hunt's Vegetable Soup. The Hunt's brand is familiar to me so I thought it would be safe. The soup wasn't very good. I thought it was on the sweet side but maybe too many US processed foods are too salty. I don't know but I won't be buying that again.

The mayonnaise is more tangy than what we are used to. It is more like what we call salad dressing or Miracle Whip. I did see a jar of Hellman's Mayo which would be more like what we are used to but it was over $5 a bottle. I may buy it if I need to make a macaroni or potato salad. I was so excited when I finally found a bottle of ranch dressing. It was Knorr brand but it was not what I was hoping for. It was very vinegary - more like creamy Italian dressing. I may have to buy that expensive mayo and make my own ranch dressing.
Here they have long life milk. It can be stored in the cupboard until you open it and then it needs to go in the fridge. There are huge displays in the stores so it must be pretty popular. I bought a box of it but I couldn't bring myself to drink it so Elder Hind just used it on his cereal. 1% or skim milk are hard to find.  They mostly  have what they call full cream and low fat milk, which, judging from the way it looks, is probably 2%.

One of the few times I found 1%
Dairy prices are about the same here as in the US. The ice cream is good most of the time but sometimes we will get a carton of ice cream that has a grainy texture. I was told that comes from not keeping the ice cream cold enough during transport. Margarine is very popular here. There are dozens of brands of margarine but I had to look closely to find the butter.  And butter does not come divided into quarters. It is just a one  pound block.

Meat is a little cheaper here. But Elder Hind does not like the way they cut their beef. They don't cut it the way they do in the US and he says there is a lot of waste.  Also they never trim anything so there is more fat than we are used to.  However, we have enjoyed T-bone steaks a couple of times. That is one cut we recognize and it is cheap. They prefer the dark meat on a chicken here and chicken rarely comes boneless. No nice, neat, boneless, skinless, frozen chicken breasts. Sausages are very big here. There are all kinds in the meat counter. We have bought some breakfast sausages that were pretty good but I like the US ones better. We did eat a sausage on our Kotas. It tasted a little like a bratwurst, so I liked it. All the grocery stores make their own "biltong" or jerky. It is really big in South Africa. I am on the look out for some exotic biltong for Robert.

Baked goods are cheap here. That is not a good thing. For Easter Sunday I bought a large double layer round chocolate cake and it only cost  $5. A similar cake in the US would be twice as much. I love all their pastries except I haven't found a decent cookie. They are all too crispy for me, there are no tender chewy cookies. Elder Hind and I are going to have to resist buying their other beautiful baked goods or we are going to get fat(er). The other senior missionaries talk about their mission 10lbs. One couple told me they expected to lose weight when they came to Africa but they gained instead. They told me they only knew of one senior missionary that lost weight. He lost 20 lbs the first 2 months he was in Africa because he couldn't bring himself to eat any the food here. I am not crazy about their bread. They cut it very thin which is probably a good thing. I bought one loaf of white bread here and it was just too thin and wimpy so I stick to brown bread.

Donuts are only 20 cents each
They have a couple of familiar cereals here. They are good and we have noticed they are crispier here than in the US. They never get soggy in milk.

The eggs are always brown here. And they don't refrigerate their eggs. Even the elders have their eggs sitting on top of their refrigerators. Mine go in the fridge. I have noticed that their eggs have more things (specks, blood, ick stuff) in them. So I always crack them in a separate bowl, never directly into the pan or mixing bowl.

They have several nice big super markets here in Newcastle. The customer service is good and the checkers and other workers are always dressed in nice uniforms. There is a lot of variety and food over all is a little cheaper here.

There is a McDonald's just down the street and a KFC right next to it. We have tried them both and they are not too different from the ones in the US except they don't have diet Coke only Coke Zero. In fact I don't think I have seen diet Coke anywhere.
We did go to lunch one day at a restaurant recommended by the missionaries called Ocean Basket. I had fish and chips and Elder Hind had shrimp and stir fry. Everything was so delicious!  I told Elder Hind I want to go for my birthday. We were so busy we weren't able to go back there until a week after my birthday. We ordered the seafood platter for two. It had fish, calamari, shrimp and mussels, chips and rice. It was so good but we couldn't eat it all. It cost a mere $20 for both of us to stuff ourselves with seafood. I may have found my favorite restaurant.


  1. The donuts would be my downfall!

    1. No, Cyd, Ocean Basket would be your downfall. You will love it when you come here.