A journey to Namibia

An itinerary among the delicacies of the old German protectorate in Africa, a magnificent country. Schnitzel, oysters and worms

13-08-2017

Joe’s Beerhouse in Windhoek, capital of Namibia, in 160 Nelson Mandela Avenue

With its endless horizons, immense deserts, dunes and breathtaking sunsets, Namibia is an extraterrestrial country, in that it really feels like you’re on different planet.

Politically linked to South Africa for many years (it gained independence in 1990 and even though the official language is English, Afrikaans is commonly spoken), Namibia still has its strong identity. Even food-wise

The main influence is German: Namibia was a German protectorate from 1884 to 1920 and the Teutonic heritage is particularly evident in the architecture and food. Eating bratwurst and a pretzel in an Oktoberfest atmosphere while sipping a stein of Windhoek (the local beer, named after the capital) in a stube under the African skies is surreal.

The proof of the pudding is the Brauhaus in Swakopmund, one of the main towns in Namibia: on top of the excellent beer, some of which are craft beers, the restaurant offers schnitzel, pork chops with krauts and roasted shin bones. Kucki’s Pub, also in Swakopmund, is another German-style restaurant that also offers good fish in a casual and fun setting, perfect after an excursion on the dunes of Namibia.

Spirits upside down at Kucki's Pub in Swakopmund

Spirits upside down at Kucki's Pub in Swakopmund

Germany aside, Namibia has its local traditions, starting from the excellent oysters from Luderitz, mostly exported to neighbouring countries. Farming oysters in water that hardly reaches 14 degrees Celsius may seem impossible. Indeed this is a Namibian peculiarity: the current from the Bay of Bengal creates a micro-climate, in the area of Luderitz, that allows oysters to reach maturation in just 8 months instead of 3 years, as in the case of French oysters .

After a long day on the road, in the dust of Namibian tracks, culinary gratifications come from a steaming stew paired with miliepap (polenta). Be it cooked on braai, stewed or roasted, meat is the main ingredient in every meal. Kudu, gemsbok and springbok (all in the antelope family), raised in pastures, are the country’s main culinary offer.

As for meat, Joe’s Beerhouse in Windhoek is not-to-be-missed. It’s a historic restaurant, very famous thanks to its cuisine, but it’s also much more than that: it’s a meeting point full of memorabilia from journeys in Africa, where everyone can feel like a new Livingstone.

The terraced garden at Leo’s at the Castle, inside Hotel Heinitzburg

The terraced garden at Leo’s at the Castle, inside Hotel Heinitzburg

In Namibia, the atmosphere is usually very casual, but for a formal night, you can dive into the Mitteleuropan setting at Leo’s at the Castle, inside Hotel Heinitzburg. With a marvellous view of the city, with crystals and silverware, the restaurant has a refined menu using local products, including lobsters, and an excellent wine list, mostly imported since Namibia is not a big wine producer due its the desert climate.

For very strong palates, the most interesting experience is offered by Mopane worms: these large worms are first dried and then rehydrated and stewed with onions and tomato or sold as snacks in local markets. Thanks to their protein content they’re an essential ingredient in the diet of the local population. Good luck!
Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


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