March 23, 2023

A taste of South African food with a Gen Z food reviewer

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Mufaro Muffles, South Africa

Gen Z food lover. Restaurant reviewer. Engineering student. Entrepreneur.”

“Eating is one of the most amazing experiences in the world.”

Hi, Mufaro! Tell us a bit about yourself!

I’m Mufaro, 22 years old, living in Johannesburg in South Africa. I'm currently studying Civil Engineering, and in the future I want to work as a civil engineer! I want to have an impact on African communities by improving the infrastructure and developing communities with my skills.

I’m also a big foodie who visits restaurants very often and makes restaurant reviews. I love encouraging people to go to those restaurants to have a good experience. I wish that one day I could travel around the world documenting interesting food experiences.

How would you describe food culture in South Africa?

In South Africa, food is very important to everyone. Almost every weekend or public holiday, people organize events to cook together with their families and friends. Most food cooked is very homey and colourful ,and delicious.

Braii is in our blood, it’s our way of doing barbecue. It’s a special South African feast that can last for hours. Our weekend usually means the aroma of grilling meats wafting from backyards across the country, while friends and family gather together for a good time.

There are also many festivals around food, for example, street food festivals like the Shisanyama food festival and various cheese festivals. We’ve also got loads of food markets where you can find all types of meals.

Our food is influenced from different countries. Some of these are Indian, Malaysian, French and Dutch bringing and mixing flavours and techniques. All those influences can be seen nowadays in both restaurants and at home.


For someone visiting SA for the very first time, what are the 'must try' for food?

There are two ‘must try’ foods! The first is Pap with Chakalaka, which is a typical combination of South Africa food. Pap is a porridge made from maize meal and can be cooked to be runny, soft or even stiff. Chakalaka is a spicy tomato bean relish. Usually, you eat this combination with your own hands and this is very interesting.

The second is our most famous dessert, Malva pudding. This is a sweet pudding of South African origin containing apricot jam and has a spongy caramelised texture. A cream sauce is often poured over it while it is hot, and it is usually served hot with custard and/or ice-cream. You can find this in many South African restaurants, and you are sure to have an incredible experience.

Where's your passion around food came from?

It all started when I was a child. I used to like trying out different foods and watch a lot of food shows and even tried to cook some of them at home. On my 14th birthday, I told my mom not to buy me a cake because I wanted to bake my own cake. That was when I started to be obsessed with making food. And I love to see the happiness that great food brings to people.

Since I started Uni, I started going to restaurants and I realized there's so much more beauty and passion in it. There's someone on their first date, a family enjoying a nice time, a girls’ group celebrating a birthday. I realised that my reviews of the restaurants can help others get better experiences. Of course, I do love eating good food and enjoy a good time myself!


As a restaurant reviewer, what's your food reviewing criteria?

My first criterion is aesthetic. From the look of the restaurant, how is the atmosphere and if it’s instagrammable.

The second is service. The service needs to be very good and efficient. Staff and managers need to be sympathetic too.

Last and most importantly, is about the food. If it tastes good, if it looks good, the size of the portion and the use of ingredients.

Overall, my review will be a balanced view from myself and people who eat with me. I usually go to restaurants with friends, we would order several dishes and share our opinions.


Have you noticed any interesting trends around food in South Africa?

I notice that there's a shift from a focus on quality of food to a focus on the aesthetics. Restaurants want to make the look of dining space and their food as instagrammable as possible. This way customers can take photos and share on social media. A good example is Solo restaurant, the restaurant brings an extraordinary sensory experience for customers. The upmarket establishment is all about celebrating all things South African!

The second is the TikTok influence. Search any food hashtag on the video-sharing app related to South African foods and you will find interesting recipes and food hacks. Content creators have gone viral for their special takes on favourite dishes such as creamy spinach, potato salad, scones, to pap and wors and interesting pilchard mayo sandwiches. Sometimes people just buy a drink and spend hours taking photos. Instagram and TikTok are the main inspirations for food and restaurants and help people find where and what to eat.

Apart from that, there is a growing focus on health and sustainability. Many restaurants start to offer meals with special options like vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, lactose free. Naked Café is a good example in Johannesburg.  Naked Café serves one of the best cups of coffee in the city and people can choose dairy-free milk alternatives. While the menu isn’t entirely vegan, there are more than enough options that will keep you satiated.

Another trend is around restaurant themes. Some most popular examples are a retro vibe, romance vibe, local love vibe or even being home vibe. For example,  ChooChoo Junction is a train-themed restaurant known for its global menu gets into brainy mode with quiz nights every Thursday. Restaurants are making an effort to provide diners not only great food, but also a memorable experience.

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