Johannesburg to Jacksonville – Embracing the South African heritage thousands of kilometres away
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From Johannesburg to Jacksonville, Natasha Prince-Swatek has not forgotten her South African roots this Heritage Day.
The 32-year-old who relocated with her husband to Florida in the US might be over 13 000 kilometres from home, but she commemorated the South African public holiday fittingly.
“We have a South African coffee shop in Jacksonville, Florida called Round Bird Coffee, and I stopped by to enjoy a sausage roll and a milk tart latte and also picked up some biltong,” she told The Saturday Star this week.
Fellow South African Preshanti Moodley, who recently moved to New York City, also spent Heritage Day with her fellow countrymen in the Big Apple, enjoying a local tradition.
“A few of my friends from SA and I celebrated by having a braai,” she said.
“It was the same as back home, but we tried our best to make it feel like home.”
As the pair remember and reminisce about their love for all things South Africa, a recent study conducted by local retail giant Game revealed the top South African food items, snacks and beverages.
Those that ranked in the top five were Biltong, Koo Baked Beans, Ultra Mel Custard, Amarula Cream Liqueur and Nik Naks.
Rounding off the top 10 was Castle Lager Beer, Lay’s Potato Chips, Peppermint Crisp, Fritos and Flings.
The taste buds of the South African women abroad also long for these and other local flavours.
For Prince-Swatek, she longs to enjoy Simba’s Mexican Chilli flavour chips, Cream Soda and Chicken Licken, while Moodley misses the taste of spicy Biltong, Cadbury Astros, peppermint tart and Amarula.
While she also craves the taste of the South African Indian cuisines she grew up eating, she also can’t wait to sink her teeth into other local favourites.
“I also miss restaurants like Nando’s, Ocean Basket and Spur.”
While the Game study also found that enjoying a meal together was one of their favourite South African pastimes, Moodley agreed.
“I feel like South Africa has a stronger family orientated lifestyle compared to the US, and that no other country in the world can make food like SA,” the Johannesburg-born youngster insisted.
“Our food is seasoned well and rich in flavour.”
Meanwhile, Prince-Swatek also reminisces about celebrating Heritage Day, the proudly South African way.
“My favourite Heritage Day memory is definitely enjoying a braai or potjie with friends and family and a few cold Savannahs.”
Her love for South Africa and its flavours have even been extended to her American husband Parker, despite their cultural differences.
“My husband loves South African food, mostly because of how much flavour it has, and his favourites are Gatsbys and Boerewors rolls.
“Sometimes he is also confused by the name we give our food compared to here in the USA, for example in the US a pie is usually a sweet dish (what we would consider a tart in South Africa), so the first time I said we were going to get pies for lunch he was under the impression we were going to eat something completely different.”
Moodley has also shared her love for all things South Africans with her US friends and was thrilled when she found a local store in New York.
“When I spent a year in San Francisco, California, there was nothing close to home including snacks and foods, but when I came to spend my next year in New York, I met so many South Africans living abroad, and they told me about this wonderful place called New York Biltong.
“I take all my friends there, and everyone loves it, even Americans! It gave me so much joy to find that beautiful store that sells many South African snacks and food.”
Prince-Swatek and Moodley might be thousands of kilometres away from their country of birth, but this Heritage Day, they remembered its sentiment and significance, even while on completely different continents.
“When you are living in a foreign country, your place of birth literally becomes your identity, and in South Africa, we are such a mixture of cultures and races, and we grow up with diversity being the norm and with diversity being celebrated,” Prince-Swatek believes.
“Being South African, to me, means acknowledging, appreciating and accepting that while we all may look and think differently, that we are all human beings and that we can all get along.”
Moodley agreed and added: “South Africa has so much culture and diversity, and celebrating a country with so much wonderful history, makes me proud to be South African.”