Words cannot adequately express how grateful I am to have had the opportunity to participate in the 5th Africa Tourism Leadership Forum (ATLF) and Awards in Gaborone, Botswana .
This year’s theme “Igniting Intra-Africa tourism through inclusive intra-Africa trade, partnerships and investments” set the tone for thought-provoking “hard talks” among leaders and actors of both the public and private sectors.
Not only did we engage with one another, learned and networked, we also got the opportunity to fully experience the very best that the beautiful country of Botswana had to offer. From the interactions with its creative minds, entrepreneurs in the arts & crafts industry to the authentic traditional performances and last but not least its cuisine, Botswana has been such an incredible host.
This was the second time I traveled to the southern part of the continent. The first time was a memorable trip in 2015 to South Africa to celebrate a milestone birthday.
Truth be told, I was both elated and curious about my culinary experience in Gaborone. As you know, I am deeply passionate about Gastronomy tourism, therefore tasting the local cuisine is very important to me whenever/wherever I travel.It’s all the more important when I explore a new destination.
Of course this article could not possibly cover all the delicacies of the local cuisine but here are the dishes I was able to taste during this short yet intense business trip :
- Pap: Also known as Phaleche, it’s a cornmeal porridge that is a staple in Botswana. Pap could be eaten with stews, meat or vegetables and I was told it could have different consistencies; it could either be soft and smooth, dry and crumbly or thick.
- Sorghum: It’s another staple in the country. From my understanding, it was almost comparable to Pap but with a different color and taste as well. It’s also a great side dish for stews or meat like Seswaa for example.
- Seswaa: Considered as the national meal, Seswaa is pounded beef. I have learned that Bastwana (This is how to refer to the people of Botswana) are very proud of their beef. Even the President of the country, His Excellency Mokgweetsi Masisi during his keynote address at the 5th ATLF conference did not fail to mention how their beef was the best in the world. This meal generally served on special occasions has a soft yet rich taste to it.
- Goat Seswaa: This is another version of Seswaa but this time around with goat meat. This slow cooked-meal follows the same process ; it is boiled for approximately 2 hours, then shredded or pounded with just enough salt. While goat meat has a versatile taste, I personally preferred the beef.
- Madombi: Also known as Botswana dumplings. Often slightly sweet, those flour dumplings are boiled and eaten with stews. The ones I tasted were quite large and filling.
- Mogatla: Also called oxtail stew in Botswana. Even though this popular stew takes some time to cook, the taste and tenderness of the meat make it all worth it at the end.
- Beef biltong: Considered as a snack in the southern part of the continent, Biltong can be made from beef or game meat. The process is quite interesting : it is sliced, salted, typically spiced with black pepper, coriander, vinegar and then dried. It’s not only flavorful but also quite nutrient-rich.
- Serobe: Another locals’ favorite. This dish consists of tripes of goats, sheeps or cow which are cooked until soft.
- Magwinya: Also called fat cakes in Botswana. Simply put, I will say that this is their version of the Nigerian’s Puff Puff or the Ivorian’s gboflotos. Although it was much larger in size, it had a very familiar taste to what I was accustomed to. I had it for breakfast with Serobe; an authentic culinary experience that I truly enjoyed.
- Gemere: Also known as Botswana's Ginger beer. It’s a non-alcoholic drink served at special occasions. As you can tell from its name, ginger ( both ground and dried) is the main ingredient. It wasn’t as sweet or spicy as the ginger drink we are used to in West Africa and I loved it.
That’s it for my lovely experience of a Taste of Botswana.
I am aware of the fact that I still have a lot more local delicacies to try, especially the famous mopane worms !
Have you ever been to Botswana or is that destination on your list ? Let me know in the comments below which dish you are interested in tasting first !