Namibia is a carnivorous country. Wedged between the Namib and the Kalahari you wouldn’t expect much in the way of fresh fruit and vegetables. Luckily Namibia’s beef, mutton and venison are of excellent quality and free from any hormones or antibiotics. Namibia’s variety of meat also includes ostrich, springbok, gemsbok and even crocodile. The most popular way to devour is at a braai. A braai is a social event among friends and family where meat is cooked on the open fire. The whole affair is very similar to a barbeque and is popular with Namibians from Caprivi to Lüderitz. Popular meat (braaivleis in Afrikaans) for these occasions includes lamb chops, chicken pieces and the ever popular boerewors, a spicy beef sausage. Dried meat in the form of biltong or droewors is eaten as a snack.
A traditional way of outdoor cooking is the cast iron, three-legged potjie. This pot is used to make a kind of stew (potjiekos) on the open fire.
The staple diet in the north is Mahangu (pearl millet). The grains are often served with meat or chicken and a wild spinach known as ekaka. Some of the more adventurous dishes are the large mopane caterpillars and goat’s head cooked on the open fire. As the skin contracts the goat seems to smile, hence the dish is known as ‘smiley’. Mainstream delicacies include green asparagus from Swakopmund (September to April), Lüderitz oysters, homemade cheese and Namibian olives.
Rare treats are the Kalahari truffles, which only appear in years of late rain. After the first rains the large omajowa mushroom are harvested. The meaty flavoured fungi can weigh up to a kilogram.
Namibia makes good beer. Windhoek Lager, Tafel Lager and Windhoek Draught are popular beyond the borders of Namibia and have all won international prizes. Nambrew produces the major brands according to the German purity law, the Reinheitsgebot, from 1516. The Camelthorn Brewing Company is Namibia’s first microbrewery.
Namibia’s gastronomic scene happens almost exclusively in Windhoek. Namibia’s capital offers a mix of international cuisine and local flavours and possibly a last taste of luxury before you head into the wilderness.
One of Windhoek’s most popular spots is Joe’s Beerhouse with its hearty cuisine and lively bar. For traditional African food try La Marmite, which serves traditional West-African food. Windhoek’s most exclusive restaurants are Leo’s at the Castle in Hotel Heinitzburg, Gathemann Restaurant overlooking Independence Avenue and The Gourmet off Post Street Mall.
For more dining in Windhoek see Windhoek Restaurants.