“I don’t take coffee, I take tea, my dear
I like my toast done on one side
And you can hear it in my accent when I talk
I’m an Englishman in New York”
The above are lyrics from Sting’s 1987 hit off the album Nothing like the Sun. This song is living proof that the life and challenges of expats have been around for quite some time now.
An expat (short for expatriate) is the term used to identify a person who has chosen to live away from their home country in favour of another. This can be on either a temporary or permanent basis. It’s an exciting undertaking which promises a world of opportunity and new experiences at every turn. However, more often than not, there comes a time in every expat’s life where the smells, tastes, sights and experiences of home start to form a void in the heart and create an unquestionable feeling of “something’s missing”. For the South African, delicacies and experiences like ouma’s biltong potjie and other biltong recipes are likely to be sorely missed. The beef jerky found online is unlikely to be a worthy substitute.
Even in these times of increased globalisation, faster travel and the ever-present internet, becoming an expat is still regarded as courageous and adventurous. After all, removing yourself from the only world you’ve known and grown up in, in favour of an alien environment with alien culture, practices and surroundings can certainly be daunting. Yet the growing few continue to do so because of reasons such as:
Bridging the gap for cross border love
Pursuing greater career opportunities
The lure of new experiences and surroundings
The chance to broaden horizons
Networking and expanding business prospects
Living on foreign soil can easily be romanticised, however, it is only natural that we can wind up missing our former lives or at least certain aspects of them. We eluded to this void and homesick feeling earlier. All is not lost and there are definite ways to find a taste and touch of home. The beauty of globalisation and modern travel is that your fellow countrymen are never too far away no matter where you find yourself in the world.
For example, let’s say you are South African and find yourself living down under. Even in Australia, there are bound to be events and organisations that cater to you and allow you to meet, greet and connect with other expats. With this expat community, you can reminisce about those glorious sundowners shared during the golden hour in the Western Cape, or argue over the questionable team selection choices made by Springboks as they enter Ellis Park. What’s more, if you’re missing the wholesome, flavourful tastes of unmistakably South African food, your expat friends will be sure to help you find a few slices of home, including any number of South African biltong recipes. Few foods are as South African or intertwined with South African culture and experiences as biltong.
If you’ve had biltong you know it’s more than just a spiced, dried meat that is somewhat similar to beef jerky; it’s an experience that, if it was humanly possible, we would make sure would never end. The word biltong is derived from the Dutch ‘bil’ which means buttock/rump and ‘tong’ which means tongue/strip.
The indigenous communities of Southern Africa preserved meat by cutting it into strips, curing it with salt and then hanging it up to dry. When European settlers came from France, Germany and the Netherlands they also had a need to preserve their stocks of meat. Unfortunately for them, this was before the time of the deep freezer and your favourite refrigerator brand. They adopted the preservation process used by the indigenous people of Southern Africa but also built on it by using vinegar and a variety of spices.
This allowed them to carry meat over long distances and time as they migrated during what was known as the Great Trek. The biltong we love today is the next step in evolution from the curing and drying processes implemented in the past.
Though made primarily from beef, biltong can also be made from:
Chicken, simply referred to as ‘chicken biltong.
Over a decade ago, Johann Plooy arrived in Perth with his family. He was an expat who, like you, had to overcome the challenges of being an expat as well as starting all over again. He did and you can read about it here.
Fast forward three years, and Johann opens the doors of Mufasa Biltong in Currambine. The life of an expat isn’t always a walk in the park across the greener pastures of a foreign land. This much is true but you can always find a slice of home, namely affordable, premium quality biltong at Mufasa Biltong.