shopping and dinning


South Africa has a capitalistic economy that embraces free trade. Here in South Africa, one may witness the fascinating clash of business practices between people from first world and third world countries. Getting the best deals depends on your bargaining skills. This holds
true regardless of where you shop or what you buy in South Africa; be it tariff-free gold or diamond accessories at tourist attractions or large shopping malls, casual shopping along the coasts of Cape Town or even fresh fruits from roadside vendors at mountainous regions veiled by clouds and mists. Monetary transactions are done in South Africa's official currency, the rand, and are based on the current foreign exchange rates; the prices will be reasonable no matter what you buy.


You can easily find creative and fashionable accessories peddled by roadside vendors and sold in shops. For example, you will be able to buy artworks sculptured out of soapstone from the merchants hawking along the road (many streets in the busy commercial zones of the city have been transformed to elongated open bazaars) or find samoosa (stuffed pastry) at local food venders. Alternatively, you can find a fascinating assortment of goods such as wallets, belts and books at the flea market. Or if you prefer luxurious items like suitcase made from ivory, you can try your luck at the extravagantly furnished boutiques in the suburbs. In fact, you will easily find the most exotic merchandize you can think of here in South Africa. As for handicraft that symbolize unique local cultures, you will find these at the handicraft village or roadside stalls. The truth is, roadside stalls that offer handmade crafts in rural areas of

South Africa serve as one of the better-known features of South African countryside. You would be surprised by the variety of goods you can find at these stalls, including pineapple beer, tablecloths featuring exotic designs, ostrich eggs, glittering bead necklaces, decors made from bottle gourd and so forth.

It is useful to remember to ask for tax invoices with serial numbers from store attendants whenever you shop in South Africa (unless you are shopping at flea markets). Though it might be a hassle, you do have to write down your name and address on these receipts in order to apply for tax return at designated kiosks at the airport prior to your departure. You may apply for tax return for any purchase with value over 250 rand and you can ask for the amount to be remitted in US dollars. If you choose to get rand instead, you can also do some last minute shopping of souvenirs before your flight home. 


In the city, one will may buy the most luxurious goods ranging from Persian sheepskin coats, crocodile hide wallets, antiques, hand-weaved carpets to exquisitely designed accessories with yellow diamonds and other precious stones. Most tourists find it hard to resist buying unique 
jewelries, quality leather products and fashionable designer goods while in South Africa. You will only find the latest designs of fashion at apparel stores. What you will not find at fashion boutique stores in urban South Africa are mediocre items that bear signs of cheap and mass-production at a faraway country, because quality and exquisite tastes naturally emanate from these designer labels.

 Interior design companies catering to the upper-crust clients in South Africa are inventing brand new styles of ornaments that embody the spirits of Africa with batik fabric featuring bold and vibrant colors, artistic porcelains, decorative candlesticks with vividly colored engravings and 
so forth. Such lavish adornments make even the most extravagantly furnished estate more elegant. At the Indian markets, where the scent of fragrance fills the entire premise, you will find extremely detailed jewelry made from gold, silver or copper wires by artisans with ancient and sophisticated techniques. Indian markets are also the best places to find oriental accessories, silk saris and different spices. If you are more interested in African arts, handicraft and artwork of various indigenous tribes, antique stores and the flea markets will be your best bet. You can find Cape Dutch, Victorian and Georgian styled furniture, vintage books, old jewelry, maps and antiques. Tourists to South Africa will find everything a bargain. Due to the weakness of the rand, no matter how careless you become with your money in your shopping sprees, it would still be far less than your travel expenses. 


Authentic South African cuisine took root in the Cape regions and it has been profoundly influenced by Asian, Western and African dietary cultures. Today, more and more traditional African dishes are making their way to the gourmet market around the world to
cater to food aficionados worldwide who desire creativity and a change from their normal fare. For starters, you can try Masonja - a dish prepared from the mopani worm. Tshuku is made from deep fried African termites and offers a crunchy texture. Xi Fu Fu Nu Nu is crispy and delicious, but you may be surprised to find out that is prepared from roasted dung beetle maggots. Other noteworthy dishes include FMarog (spinach), Ngwiri (wild potato), Nkoanyi (ground roasted Marula nut), Sternatora (mashed wild potato), Nyama (barbequed meat), Nyoshi (African styled pudding), Grewia (herbal tea), and Xi Mongolwani (Mukatsanii honey). Your African meal would not be complete without a cup of coffee brewed from the roots of Shepherd's Tree! Incidentally, these dishes sure do sound like what you would eat on at a survival camp in the jungle. If you have the opportunity to visit any cultural village in South Africa, you would be able to taste these traditional delicacies while quenching your curiosity and proving your courage. By the way, the Shangaan Tsonga tribe is particularly famous for their preparation of all these dishes.

Malaysian cuisine has the greatest extent of influence on the traditional dishes of South Africa. Renowned for its artistic use of seasonings and condiments, Malaysian dishes call for exquisite use of spices such as chili, legumes, cinnamon, clove and so forth.  
Common Malaysian seafood in South Africa includes crayfish hors d'oeuvres, Masa|a fish steamed in Dha| sauce and Stokvis Bobotie. Dishes prepared from poultry include curry chicken, spicy yogurt chicken, Tandoori chicken and so forth. 

Beef is the principal culinary meat consumed in South Africa, with bobotie being the most popular dish. It is prepared with minced beef or mutton, seasoned with special spices and dried peaches, almond or raisin. The traditional Malay dish reflects the fact that Malaysian chefs have gradually adjusted their traditional style of preparation to incorporate local ingredients produced in South Africa to create new and authentic South African dishes. Alternatively, you can also enjoy tomato curry mutton or the strongly flavored spicy onion curry mutton; these dishes are prepared with numerous condiments and spices such as cinnamon, coriander, aniseed, garlic, clove, curry powder, curcuma, and so forth. In addition, roasted curry meatball is another local favorite dish; the meatballs are stuffed with tomatoes and animal liver. 


Common Malaysian vegetable dishes in South Africa are potato and curry. Other vegetables such as onion, celery, cucumbers, carrots and apples may also be added with a variety of seasonings. Samoosa is another common pastry that originated in India.
The typical samoosa stuffing includes minced meat, potato, fish, chicken and vegetables. South African's favorite fish includes the Snoek, Kingk|ip, trout and herring. However, they are also fond of cooking game animals in different ways, such as stewed venison, deer fillet, pot-roasted venison, stewed rabbit, steamed ostrich and all sorts of potjiekos.

Potjiekos is a stew prepared outdoors in a round, cast iron pot gently heated over charcoal. One can add a variety of ingredients such as beef, mutton, venison, seafood, guinea fowl and so forth in the pot along with a combination of vegetables. The delicious and fulfilling dish takes little time to prepare. Sosaties is another authentic South African dish that can be prepared by chopping mutton or pork into cubes; the meat is first stuffed with almonds before it is skewered and slowly barbequed. When the meat is done, it is served with corn porridge. Waterb|ommetjiebredie is another stew that is prepared by cooking lamb fillet and waterb|ommetjies (the bud of a flower found in Western Cape) along with other ingredients in water. Bredies is a common South African stew with various vegetables such as tomatoes, green peas, cabbage, cauliflower and so forth in water. 

Braaivleis (barbecue) has always been one of South African's favorite dishes. It is mainly prepared from boerewors (traditional large sausage made from pork and beef seasoned with spices such as legumes, aniseeds, cloves, garlic and etc) slowly barbequed along with lamb and  
steak on barbeque racks outdoor. Braaivleis is usually eaten with thick corn porridge and a special onion sauce, and it tastes absolutely incredible. For those overwhelmed with work for the entire week, there is no better weekend lunch than a serving of roasted lamb leg or mutton dressed in aromatic mint. 

From the traditional cuisine perspective, common South African vegetable dishes also include baked boerpampoen (pumpkin), pumpkin chips, dried raisin rice, fried corn, preserved potatoes, stewed bung beans and potato, onion salad, mixed salad of cucumber and beans and so forth. Seasoned jam is another popular delicacy with a wide variety of flavors such as peach, apple, almond, mango, banana or assorted fruits. 

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