Afrikaans is a funny old language with many of its expressions taking on a very literal meaning. “Lekker… braai… bakkie… nou-nou… sommer” is just some of the words only South Africans know and it’s not easy explaining the meaning to a foreigner! When it comes to South African food
, Afrikaans has the best descriptive words to make your mouth water!
Afrikaans food words and their meaning
Actual meaning: Gooseberry
Direct translation: apple’s little love.
Actual meaning: popcorn
Direct translation: Jumping corn
A baked pudding made with apricot jam and beaten egg whites to give a specific silky texture.
Direct translation: velvet pudding
Actual meaning: Chicken
When you say someone lives in a hoenderhemel (chicken heaven), you mean they’re out of touch with reality. Om die hoenders in te wees (to be the chicken-in) means to be very angry. ’n Gebraaide hoender vlieg niemand in die mond nie (a roasted chicken doesn’t just fly into your mouth) means you have to put in the work for good results.
Traditional dough braids that are deep fried and soaked in syrup.
Direct translation: Cake sister
Direct translation: crunch cookies
Actual meaning: Cupcakes
If you had to break down the Afrikaans word, you’d come up with something like ‘dotty little wines’.
A traditional South African recipe of cinnamon-topped custard tart in a sweet pastry crust.
A sweet and easy-to-peel citrus fruit indigenous to South Africa.
Actual meaning: Cabbage-wrapped meatballs
Direct translation: granny under the blanket
Food that you eat while on a journey, usually homemade and containing boiled eggs for comedic effect.
Direct translation: road food
A traditional tripe-and-trotter curry.
Actual meaning: Horseradish
Direct translation: pepper root
Actual meaning: Pudding
This pudding could also be used to refer to the traditional ‘malva poeding’.
Actual meaning: Fritters or profiteroles
Direct translation: little puffs
Traditional stew slow-cooked in a cast-iron three-legged pot over the coals of a fire. Direct translation: little pot.
A baked dessert made with milk and apricot jam.
Direct translation: leap-year pudding
Pickled onions in a tangy vinegar-mustard sauce.
Direct translation: small floppy heels. (Yes, those on your feet!)
Actual meaning: Potato fries/chips
Direct translation: floppy chips
Actual meaning: Savoury snacks
Direct translation: salty bites
Actual meaning: Sweet cake
Om iets vir soetkoek op te eet (to eat something up like sweet cake) means you are gullible.
Actual meaning: Candy floss
Direct translation: ghost’s breath
Actual meaning: Sticky toffee
Figuratively, tameletjie also refers to a tricky situation.
Tjop en dop
Actual meaning: Lamb chop and alcoholic drink.
Used when inviting someone for a braai.
Actual meaning: Sandwich
Direct translation: closed little bread
A favourite is the braai broodjie!
A traditional fried batter ball that can be rolled in cinnamon-sugar or filled with tangy mince.
Direct translation: fat cake
Rolls of puff pastry with dates and almonds inside.
Direct translation: hide and seek
Actual meaning: Lamingtons (sponge cake dipped in chocolate sauce and rolled in coconut).
Direct translation: little porcupine
Woefkardoes or brakkie sakkie
Actual meaning: Doggy bag
Direct translation: bark box