During your time in Namibia make sure you try some of the local foodstuffs before you leave. The combination of German colonial history, arid and dry weather conditions and a long coastline has for the most part determined the culinary culture for the majority of the country’s population. Here are our recommendations for what you need to eat (and why!) to get a taste of Namibia:
Gemsbok, springbok, kudu, zebra. Even ostrich. Consider game meat the healthiest option on any Namibian menu. Free-range, organic, low fat and good for the environment. Plus super tasty. Lodges throughout the country frequently feature venison on their menus, the novel item cooked to perfection – a tasty dish to enjoy.
Meat is the national cuisine and you will easily see why when you visit Namibia’s capital city and towns. Informal vendors along Windhoek’s streets sell strips of spiced meat barbequed on open fires and known as kapana. Make your way to the Katutura Market where you can pick out pieces of meat to be cooked for you right there and then.
France has frogs and Asia has grasshoppers. In Namibia there are mopane worms. These little critters get their name from the mopane trees the leaves of which they peacefully munch, whiling away the days before metamorphosing into moths. That’s if they don’t get picked. The crunchy texture and high protein content of the worms made them a staple in the Owambo culture, and they are sold at open-air markets in northern Namibia’s major towns, but more recently you are even able to order them off the menu at traditional restaurants in Windhoek.
Perhaps not entirely Namibian, vetkoek is nonetheless an iconic street food that you will be sure to find throughout Windhoek, if not the country. Balls of dough are deep fried in hot oil, hence the name, which is Afrikaans for “fat cake”. The “cake” is eaten with butter, jam, cheese or even plain. Women carry large transparent containers with Vetkoek on their heads to sell the baked goods to workers on their tea breaks in Windhoek’s industrial areas.
Namibians have been brewing beer commercially since the first German settlers arrived, and the local tribes can tell you how before that the fruit of indigenous trees was fermented to produce traditional beer. The largest brewery in the country, Namibia Breweries Limited, produces its beers according to a strict purity code that means no preservatives, additives, artificial flavours or in fact anything other than hops, barley and water are used in the brewing process. Translation: no hangovers – or at least, that’s what the locals say.