Cape Town’s local food is as diverse as our cultural composition. Much like the rest of South Africa, our culture and food are intertwined. To truly appreciate the excitement of the Mother City and to get a real sense of flavour and texture, requires mixing these two things: A look at Cape Town’s chequered, yet colourful past. and a chance to sample some authentic regional cuisine.
Top pick 1: See District Six Museum
At Cape Town’s District Six Museum you can get an intimate perspective of the lively heart of Cape Town and the history of “a mixed community of freed slaves, merchants, artisans, labourers and immigrants”. The Sixth Municipal District of Cape Town (District Six) was formally established in 1867. Close to the city centre and the port, its people were forcibly removed when it was declared a white area in 1966.
This museum is far from a textbook account of forced removals and houses destroyed by bulldozers in the apartheid era. In fact, it is deliberately put together in a personal way and allows you to wander around on a self-guided tour or with a former resident of District Six as guide.
You get to find out what the people of Cape Town thought, how they lived, how they felt, their taste in music, their dreams, their fears and their favourite foods. This was a community, whom, in spite of the rigid shackles of their circumstances, thrived and supported one another and became a lively epicenter of culture and music.
Typically “Kaapse Kos” (Cape Town Food)
At the back of the museum, near the tearoom, are hand-woven recipes that invoke bygone aromas, fresh market produce and “ouma’s” (granny’s) cooking secrets. Read the beautifully crafted and illustrated recipes and the accompanying personal stories. Through the voices of the people who lived in District Six these recipes acquire their own language and reflect the personality of the community.
Top pick 2: Go to GOLD Restaurant
If you chat to a local about food and culture, somewhere in the conversation you’ll hear an anecdotal tale about a favourite dish, and even a family recipe passed down from generation to generation. Many of these special dishes make their way onto the GOLD Restaurant menu and return every now and then as seasonal favourites. Situated in Green Point, also close to the centre of Cape Town, our restaurant is all about capturing the essence, energy and cultural influences of Cape Town and many other regional parts of Africa. Here you’ll get to taste the flavour and texture of traditional African food, including the kind of dishes the District Six community would have eaten, and still enjoy today.
Some of the regional foods on GOLD’s menu
Popular District Six dishes included bobotie (curried mince dish), apricot chutney (fruity condiment), pickled fish (made from fish fresh from the sea), samoosas (triangular pastry parcels with various fillings), smoorsnoek (sea air dried fish), koeksisters (sweet syrupy deep fried pastries), umvubo (African maize porridge made with sour milk), imbiza (Xhosa steam bread) and more.
The seasonal 14-course tasting menu is presented in such a way to reflect a “best of” menu that will satisfy even the fussiest taste buds. What you eat, what inspired it, how it’s prepared and presented is all an important part of the exploration of African culture and food. So put aside an afternoon to visit the District Six Museum and head off to GOLD Restaurant for dinner afterwards. The perfect day in Cape Town!
Important contact information
District Six Museum
Open from 09:00 until 16:00 (Monday to Saturday) and by appointment only (Sundays)
+27 21 466 7200
25A Buitenkant Street Cape Town, 8001
Open Monday to Sunday (Dinner, drumming and live entertainment)
+27 21 421 4653
15 Bennett Street Green Point, Cape Town, 8005