Where the wild Atlantic meets the empty African shores, lies Namibia: the world’s second least densely populated country. Named for the Namib Desert, which in turn takes its name from the local word for ‘vast place’, Namibia is an ancient country.
Today, it’s a nation that’s doing it best – most notably in the area of conservation and the environment. To date, it’s one of very few countries in the world to address conservation and the protection of natural resources in its constitution.
On the menu you’ll find a delightful mix of traditional dishes and colonially-influenced cuisine.
The unofficial dish of the country is mealie pap. Which, although a staple, is a little uninteresting: a basic porridge dish that’s often the only meal of the day, made from maize in the south and mahangu (pearl millet) in the north. To add to the flavour, the dish is usually accompanied by meat, cabbage or fish depending on region.
Other traditional dishes include oshiwambo, a rather more flavoursome combination of spinach and beef, and another porridge-like concoction known as oshifima, a dough-like paste made from millet, again served with a stew of vegetables or meat. And there’s plenty of fruit to go round: gem squash and pumpkin abound, as do papayas and Namibian oranges.
In the urban centres, however, there’s a still distinct colonial feel to the cuisine: konditoreien (cake shops) offer melt-in-the-mouth Apfelstrudel, Sachertorte and Schwartzwälder Kirschtorte (Black Forest cake) along with the koeksesters (small doughnuts dripping with honey) and melktart (milk tart).
Steak is often on the menu, though you may find eland or oryx along with the more usual beef, and on the coasts, there’s an abundance of kingklip, kabeljou and shellfish fresh from the sea. Of course not everyone can afford such delights. But with so few people in such a large place, there’s plenty to go around if you have the cash!