I’ve never been to Africa at all, let alone South Africa. However, it’s high on my list, both to see Capetown and to do a safari. One day, right? Anyway, this week we planned our date night around a specific activity we have been wanting to try: a virtual safari. We knew nothing of South African food, and little of its history besides apartheid. So with a blank canvas, we went to work!
Remember, this itinerary is just what we did. Feel free to change it up in any way you see fit!
South African-Themed Date Night
Eat: Bobotie and Malva Pudding
Let’s start with bobotie, South Africa’s national dish. The name is in Afrikaans, a remnant of the Bour past. Think of bobotie as the South African equivalent of moussaka, a hearty mixture of ground meat topped with something creamy. In this case, ground beef (I used half turkey) is mixed with onion, curry paste, raisins, and chutney (I used apricot), and cooked stovetop. Once it’s done, add moistened white bread to thicken it, then put it in an oven safe dish. Top with a savory egg custard (just eggs and milk, plus salt, pepper, and spices) and bake it until the custard sets and begins to brown. It is a fascinating mix of textures and flavors, chewy and creamy, savory and sweet. While it wasn’t A’s favorite, I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to leftovers!
Malva pudding is pudding in the British sense, meaning not in the American way of chocolate or tapioca, but rather a cake. It is flavored with apricot jam, and after baking gets a sweetened milk mixture poured over the top, which shockingly entirely absorbs, making this pretty much the most moist cake I have ever eaten. It was delightful!
Malva pudding. So tasty!
Learn: Early South African History
Our dinner documentary this round was a history of South Africa leading up to the Zulu Wars. My knowledge of African history is limited mostly to ancient Egypt and what I’ve read from Jared Diamond. (If you have never read Guns, Germs, and Steel, do so!) As with so much of the world, it is largely a history of how whites screwed over the locals, which we know would come to be a theme here.
Learn: Nelson Mandela
Seeking more of the modern history, we next watched an hour long documentary from the 90s about Nelson Mandela. (This was combined with some outside research on apartheid.) All I can say is that I don’t know if I’d be as forgiving as he was after spending 27 years in prison. To be able to rise above that, to work with President Le Klerk (they shared the Nobel Peace Prize) to end apartheid rather than be spiteful and vindictive, it’s just truly amazing, and a testament to the ability of a single person to change the world.
By the way, if you haven’t seen the apartheid laws, look them up. The concept of whites being “better” than blacks, given the land “by God,” is especially poignant today. They who don’t learn from the past… sigh.
The man himself
Did you know you can do a virtual aerial tour of Capetown? Well you can, and the city is pretty darn spectacular from above! The mountains, the coastline, and some of the main parts of the city itself are all visible. Check it out!
Experience: African Safari
This was the main event, the raison d’être for this date night. This virtual safari is breathtaking. It is live twice a day, sunrise and sunset in South Africa, and features naturalists in search of wildlife from parks all over the country. They toggle back and forth depending on who has something fun to look at, and the information given is both thorough and entertaining. In the 90 minutes we watched before bed, we saw eagles, vultures, chameleons, antelope, a rhino, a pride of lions, and a huge herd of elephants! We will be doing this regularly!!
A couple brief screenshots from the safari
I hope you enjoyed this brief snapshot into South Africa via date night, and that you try it for yourself!
For a complete list of all our travel themed date nights, click here.
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