Every time I frequent a grocery store, I cannot help but notice the packaged meat in the check out aisle where candy and chocolate would typically be found in grocery stores in the United States. More often than not, the dark brown-black colored meat is labeled ‘Ostrich Meat’ or something repulsive. I have never had the impulse to try these… delicacies… but I was definitely interested in learning more about it and why people like it so much.
Biltong originated in South Africa and is a type of cured meat. “Many different types of meat are used to produce it from beef through game meats to fillets of ostrich from commercial farms.” It is very similar to beef jerky, but our Garden Route driver was very adamant in insisting that it is nothing, nothing, like beef jerky. The main similarity between beef jerky and biltong is that they are both spiced and dried meats. However, because the production processes are so different and biltong is thicker and has a slightly sweet taste that obviously makes the two nothing alike.
Biltong is a Dutch word literally translating to “rump strip/tongue.” Dutch settlers who needed a way to preserve their meat from decay and insects were the first to produce biltong. Since then, it has become South Africa's guilty pleasure.