Local tourism organisation West Coast Way has recently given this often underrated tourist destination a much-needed boost with the introduction of four exciting routes for visitors, each highlighting different categories of things to see and do along the West Coast. Of special significance for seafood-loving travellers, should be the Foodie Route, which showcases the amazing food heritage of the region.
The West Coast of South Africa is home to many truly unique culinary treats, and the adventurous foodie will certainly have a blissful time uncovering these gems of the sea. First on the list of not-to-be-missed deligths on the heritage food menu here is the legendary West Coast snoek. This quintessential Cape heritage food is often paired with sweet potato and is found all along the western coastline of Southern Africa, from Namibia down to Mossel Bay. Anyone who’s ever been able to witness a snoek run in Lamberts Bay will tell you that it is quite an experience, not only to see so many of the beloved fish and snatch them up for next to nothing, but also mingling with the colourful local fishermen.
Other West Coast staples are its fabulous oysters and mussels. Saldanha Bay is a small fishing town located about an hour’s drive from Cape Town, and boasts what is considered by many as the finest oysters and mussels in the country. These earthy shellfish are both on the SASSI Green List of sustainable SA seafood options, along with snoek. Saldanha oysters have become sought-after around the world for their superior quality and sustainable production means, and are best enjoyed in the winter months, when the shellfish don’t reproduce and are more plump and fleshy.
Another taste adventure unique to the West Coast, and in particular the town of Velddrif, is dried fish, better known as bokkoms. Here you’ll find the Bokkomlaan, a street lined with little shops where these bokkoms, or fish biltong, mostly made from haarders are hung to dry under open eaves. Granted, these pungent delicacies do not fall in everyone’s taste, but the flair and enthusiam with which they are produced by locals, give these, along with other signature West Coast dishes, an irresistible allure for the daring tourist. And apart from the famous regional cuisine mentioned here, there is much more to discover in the treasure trove that is West Coast heritage food. So take the trip along its Foodie Route, and dive in.