A culinary experience can make you fall in love with a new country and give you a new found inspiration, respect and perspective. Here are a list of few renowned places in Africa that offer uniquely delicious, immersive cultural experience and teaching you how to prepare the local cuisines along with some history lessons. These foodie-centric trips are worth experiencing.
1. Babylonstoren Garden, Fruit and Wine Farm
By far one of the best preserved farmyards in Cape today. This majestic garden, farmyard, vineyard and farm Hotel situating on the backdrop of the Simonsberg, Du Toitskloof and Franschhoek mountains is truly a breath of fresh air. The owners, Koos Bekker and Karen Roos restored this 300-year-old farm into a modern yet authentic sensibility that takes the farm firmly into the future while still maintaining its primitive texture. There are more than 300 varieties of plants in the garden edible or have medicinal value, with everything from blood oranges to asparagus, mushrooms and persimmons supplying the farm’s two restaurants: Babel and the Greenhouse.
There are workshops offered regularly as an opportunity to share and teach guests about gardening in general. In addition, other workshops such as baking bread by Master baker Fritz Schoon & baker Peachy, show you how to grind your own flour. Make your own sourdough starter and take home to nurture. Also, another workshop they offer is Cheese making with Babylonstoren specialties such as ricotta, haloumi, fior di latte, youghurt and feta. There is more activities including beekeeping were you put on your beekeeping suits to inspect the hives in the garden and to harvest fresh honey while also learning some interesting facts and myths about bees and beekeeping.
2. Môreson Wine Estate – Bread & Wine, Franschhoek, South Africa
Run by owner and chef Niel Jewell once a month, Bread & Wine Course takes place in the beautiful valley of Franschhoek. During the Bread & Wine bread making courses you´ll be taught how to have fun with food, making magic in any kitchen. “Learn how to fill your own kitchen with that famous freshly baked bread smell and become the baker you always knew you could be.” The course starts fairly early in the morning and upon arrival you’re given the ingredients, an apron, and a recipe book that you can keep. The next step is recreating four different types of dough- focaccia, soda bread, sour dough and olive oil brown. If you´re looking for something new, exciting and a little provocative this is definitely a course worth taking.
3. Cass Abrahams – the foremost authority on the Cape Malay Cuisine, Capetown, South Africa
The Cape Malay cuisine is the oldest cuisine of the Cape people. The origins of the cuisine come from the time of the Dutch East India Company just after they created a settlement in the Cape to provide the passing ships with fresh produce. In 1659 they imported slaves from a variety of regions – the largest number however came from Indonesia, followed by India. These slaves became the kitchen slaves. As the Cape was on the trading route to the East – the slaves had access to the spices and combined the Dutch cuisine with the influences from the areas that they came from. The cuisine that emerged from these kitchens is known as the Cape Malay Cuisine.
Local “foodie” celebrity Cass Abrahams – the renowned authority on Cape Malay cuisine for a visit to her home, an introductory talk on the history of the cuisine and the spices, followed by a hands on cooking class where you learn to make traditional Cape Malay dishes under her supervision. You would typically make about four different recipes and then sit down to lunch and enjoy the dishes you have made.
The private tour is organized by Cape Fusion Tours, can only accommodate six people since the cooking is done in Cass Abraham’s home.
4. Cooking in the Karoo - African Relish, Prince Albert South Africa
African Relish runs two basic course types throughout the year. There are two categories to choose from. There is the anytime cooking courses such as Karoo Classics or Vegetarian, which are half or full day, offer more convenience and easy to book on short notices. The Scheduled weekend courses on the other hand, requires scheduling prior to attending. Here you get to meet and learn from chefs such as Neil Jewell, Nina Timm and Stef Marais. It also includes longer culinary and special interest retreats like the popular Cycle tour or Yoga retreat.
5. Dar Les Cigognes - A luxurious boutique hotel, Marrakech
Voted best Moroccan Cooking School in the world and teaching since 2001 Dar Les Cigognes offer classes that center on traditional Moroccan food. Their goal is to try to put the food you cook into its cultural context and where it sprung from. All types of Moroccan cuisines are taught including specialist pastry and bread-making classes. All of the classes are privately designed to teach you what you want to learn. They also offer a number of different standard formats including short one-hour classes for residents, to half-day and longer classes for residents and non-residents. Classes and cooking experiences are offered to children, families, small and large groups. And also cater to amateurs and professionals. Some of the more well-known people who have cooked with Dar Les Cigognes over the years include Paula Wolfert, Yotam Ottolenghi, Mourad Lahlou, Choumicha, and countless restaurant owners.
6. Taste of Place/Egypt Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at the Nile Plaza
Embark on a two-day adventure filled with authentic Egyptian cuisine and local wine making. Taste of Place is a collection of culinary and beverage experiences inviting you to sample local food culture in Four Seasons destinations around the world. At participating properties, travelers and locals with an appetite for exploration can enjoy exclusive tours, tastings, classes and dining experiences – each orchestrated by area experts and unfolding in unforgettable settings.
The vibrant restaurant, Zitouni, serves dishes that tell a comprehensive story of Egyptian cuisine, featuring recipes from every corner of the country. This two-day adventure reveals the start-to-finish process that the Hotel’s Executive Chef Emad Ebeid goes through when creating such a diverse menu. By immersing yourself in this experience, you can taste the finest Egypt has to offer.
7. Ateliers d’Ailleurs "Cuisine et Culture" Morocco
The cooking workshop is an absolute search of authenticity offered to better meet your expectations. "Cuisine and Culture" is a culinary and cultural journey at the inhabitant (a local participant’s house). These are fully private courses organized from one or two people to offer you a very personalized attention, rarely possible in group. The courses are a real treat for lovers of the culinary tradition: the composition of the meal, the choice of recipes, cooking over a wood fire, pottery utensils, and all these elements represent traditional Moroccan cuisine, as it is still practiced by many families.
To make the course more authentic, cuisine and culture works with several inhabitants so as not to propose more than 3 workshops per week to each of them and to avoid the repetitive and impersonal effect of the lessons cooking "at the chain." Note that the meals, prepared by yourself with fresh products, very often get the title of "best meal of our stay," so working with the inhabitants is recommended.
In addition, there is also a meeting and culture workshops, the meeting is in the spotlight: the discovery of recipes is led by women who, beyond the kitchen, you discover the universe and everyday life of a Moroccan family. You live real moments of relaxation and cultural discovery when, after the course itself, comes the time of the meal.
The inhabitant opens her Moroccan living room, the opportunity for you to discover the codes and customs of a real Moroccan meal and exchange on Moroccan culture. On request, the "Cuisine et Culture" workshops can be completed by a one-hour non-touristic market tour, conducted in the company of the worker and a guide.
8. Tangawizi Bistro Zanzibar
A hands-on cooking class hosted by local chefs to teach you authentic Zanzibar cuisines from curries, sweets to many main dishes. There are several cooking class locations. There is the farm cooking class with spice tour which gives an opportunity to do a market and spice tour with competent guides. Also as a bonus, you get the chance to visit one of Stone town home (Stone Town Home cooking class) and also learn Zanzibar culture and its history. The farm Zanzibar cooking class focuses on going back to the traditional cooking by explaining the origins of spices, their significance in Zanzibar cuisine and using the old methods as practiced by the ancestors. Stone Town Home Cooking class plus Stone town tour; Stone Town Cooking class with no Stone town tour; Farm cooking class; Kendwa cooking class; East Coast cooking class are several other options to choose from.
9. Come Dine with Ida (formerly Ida’s Kitchen) Coastal Road Brufut, Tanji, The Gambia
Typical Gambian night including authentic Gambian food and drinks, storytelling with kora music or a poet with and hotel transfer. The class starts by dressing up in one of Ida's many African outfits (male and female outfits available). Then you visit the local fish market to buy ingredients, which is a great experience in itself. And upon returning from the market is Ida cooking and showing you how to cook a local Gambian dish. Offered once a week and must book in advance. Limited space max 25. From 7pm-10pm. Ideal for groups too who have a special event whilst on holiday in the Gambia.
10. The House of Cooking, Cairo Egypt
At the House of Cooking you get to learn all kinds of food from different cuisines; Italian, American, Mexican, Thai and the traditional Egyptian dishes, not to mention specialized Baking, Desserts & Pastry Classes. Participate in hands-on cooking class from making Italian lasagna, American Fried Chicken, to Chinese egg rolls & delicious Indian dishes. You will also learn all the tips & techniques of pastry making from brioche bread, Croissant, cheese bread, fried onion bread, doughnuts and a lot more. Also, the different types of pasta and their sauces, in addition to beef, & shrimp pasta dishes. In addition, you will also learn the basics of dessert making, from crème brulee, chocolate soufflé, fruit tart to Americanized chocolate molten cake, peanut butter bars & banana bread. Kids can also join in the fun too by learning how to cook in a fun way from decorating cupcakes, making mini pizzas to salads.
In Conclusion, let us know if you have ever taken classes with any of these providers. Better yet let us know if there is a definite one you would recommend or perhaps have taken a class with.