Kasi dining etiquette
So, your long-awaited township tour is booked and the itinerary promises authentic cuisine and lots of interaction with the locals at a shebeen/township restaurant. As with any new dining adventure, it pays to do your homework and be mindful of local customs ... so here are a few tips for making your 1st kasi (township) meal deliciously memorable.
Most tourists’ 1st experience of kasi cuisine is usually in the form of a buffet featuring a selection of home-cooked dishes, though the selection of upmarket restaurants with formidable wine lists is growing.
Township restaurants are usually crammed with local patrons; expect a lively atmosphere with lots of chatter, laughter, sports commentary and music. Requests to change the music or lower the volume of the football commentary blaring from the flat-screen TV are likely to be ignored, so go with the flow and enjoy the vibe.
Self-serve buffets are the norm, but don’t assume this implies an all-you-can-eat frenzy. Generally speaking, your buffet price allows for 1 serving per person of starters, mains and dessert. Second helpings are perfectly acceptable – but you’re pushing it if you head back to the trough 4 or 5 times!
Township restaurants are usually crammed with local patrons; expect a lively atmosphere with lots of chatter, laughter, sports commentary and music.
Vegans, vegetarians and those with special dietary requirements should take note that kasi cuisine is typically meat-heavy, with lots of braised stews and grilled meat selections on offer. Be aware that kasi cooks like their meat on the bone. If you insist on prime cuts or filleted meat, fish, or fowl, an upmarket à la carte restaurant is your best bet.
Dishes such as mogodu, or tripe (cleaned cow’s or sheep’s stomach), oxtail and amanqina (boiled hooves or trotters) are common on kasi buffet tables. If eating offal is not for you, just politely decline it. If you’re unsure of what’s in a particular dish, have someone explain it to you.
Finally, old-fashioned good manners apply. Just because some kasi restaurants have modest furnishings and paper napkins doesn’t mean you can leave your etiquette on the tour bus. Don’t queue-barge; wait your turn to choose your serving; don’t help yourself from a dish until the diner in front of you is finished; and if a dish must be replenished, be patient.
Thokoleza ukudla! Enjoy your meal...
Category: Food & Wine