News / Africa

South Africa Serving Up the Beef at World Cup

South Africa restaurateurs and meat suppliers to sell tons of beef during upcoming football World Cup

Prime South African beef on a grill in a South African restaurant.  World Cup visitors must prepare to eat plenty of red meat......
Prime South African beef on a grill in a South African restaurant. World Cup visitors must prepare to eat plenty of red meat......

Multimedia

Audio
  • to South Africans serving up the beef at the world cup

TEXT SIZE - +
Darren Taylor

Leading South African restaurateur Steve Maresch enters a large cold room, and gestures towards slabs of meat hanging from hooks.  “It’ll be sirloin, rump down there, rib eye on top there; then T-bone,” he explains, “This is what we’re looking forward to serving to our visitors – prime South African beef.”

The beef expert is a member of South Africa’s national guild of restaurateurs – and just one of many South Africans preparing to feed about 450,000 international football fans during Africa’s first World Cup.

Unprecedented beef sales are expected in South Africa during the month-long football festival, given that supporters from six of the top 10 beef-eating nations on earth will descend on the country.

According to the latest statistics from the United States Food and Agriculture Department, Argentina is the world’s top per capita consumer of beef.  On average, each Argentine eats a staggering 65.2 Kg (1 KG = 2.2 lbs) of beef every year.  Australians are next, eating almost 50 Kg per person per year, while each American on average eats more than 40 Kg of beef annually.  Uruguay, Brazil and France – countries that have also qualified for the 2010 World Cup – are also among the top 10 beef-eating nations.

South Africans eat a mere 16 Kg of the meat a year – still enough to place their homeland among the top 20 beef-consuming countries.  South Africa also enjoys a reputation of producing some of the most flavorful beef in the world.    

Incredible beef

Maresch’s love affair with beef began about eight years ago, when he visited a cattle ranch in South Africa’s northern Gauteng province.  
“At Chalmar farm we discovered the most incredible beef we’d ever tasted and literally two weeks later, we’d opened the first of a few local grills,” he tells VOA.

Zimbabwean steak griller Peter Mahiangu is looking forward to preparing food for tourists during South Africa's World Cup
Zimbabwean steak griller Peter Mahiangu is looking forward to preparing food for tourists during South Africa's World Cup

The grain-fed beef he now serves in his restaurants – often rated by leading food critics as the best steakhouses in South Africa – comes from steers at Chalmar ranch.  There, animals are fed only the finest natural grains.

“We also have the finest of free-range beef, or grass-fed beef, which comes from a farm in Kwazulu-Natal (province).  And that’s very lush, green pastures (that the cattle graze),” Maresch says.  

Greenfields ranch supplies free-range meat from cattle left to roam the misty hills and mountains, free to feed as they wish on mineral-rich grasses.

Our cattle are what they eat


Cattle in South Africa aren’t confined to one particular area, but are found all over the country.

“Our cattle are what they eat,” says Maresch.  “Often it’s been said that South Africa is a world in one country – from lush, grassy pastures to quite arid regions, to mountainous areas, to savanna.  It’s the best of all worlds in one here – which means the beef that we can produce is of the finest.”

Down the years, South African beef producers have discovered which particular breeds of cattle are best suited to specific regions containing specific grazing.

Great South African beef comes from indigenous cattle such as the Nguni breed
Great South African beef comes from indigenous cattle such as the Nguni breed

South African beef has an “edge” over that produced in many other parts of the world, says Maresch, because of the country’s “wonderful farmers,” who focus on quality rather than quantity.

“I think the farms have huge attention to detail, in all aspects, and we certainly have had the privilege of going out to the farms and walking the pastures, being out in the feedlots and understanding (the farmers’) total commitment (to producing quality beef).”

Humane treatment influences meat’s taste

South African farmers crossbreed traditional indigenous cattle such as Nguni, Afrikaner, Drakensberger and Bonsmara.  “They’re trying to find and interbreed (animals) to produce better yield, better flavor, and a more consistent beef,” Maresch says.

The country’s beef is of the healthiest in the world, according to South African nutritionist Hettie Schonfeld.

“The beef consumed most often in South Africa contains only 13% fat - of the leanest when compared to global beef producers and thus making it perfectly acceptable to consume as part of a healthy balanced diet,” she says.  

Maresch says many South African farmers also treat their herds as humanely as possible.  “If cattle are stressed, no matter how good a breed it is, the meat isn’t going to taste as good because the animals produce all kinds of (flavor-killing acids) when they’re stressed.”

He adds that “quality” South African beef producers don’t inject their cattle with artificial growth hormones and steroids.

The aging process


The aging process affects how tender and juicy tasty a steak is.  “From my   experience, the aging process is one that any good steak has to go through, and aging is allowing the amino acids to be active (to) break down the muscle fibers,” says Maresch.

Maresch attributes the high quality of South African beef to the expertise of the country's cattle farmers
Maresch attributes the high quality of South African beef to the expertise of the country's cattle farmers

The meat is aged by hanging it in cold rooms, with temperatures between three and five degrees Celsius.  Humidity is controlled by means of special filters.  

“This allows our beef to be aged for up to 90 days, when vacuum packed.  When the beef is in a vacuum pack, that’s called wet aging,” Maresch explains.  “The cut lies in its natural juices and is allowed to mature.”

But there’s also dry aging – the meat arrives from the farm, and sellers keep it in a vacuum pack for up to two weeks.  

“Then we take it out of the vacuum bag and hang it up on a hook in the cold room, allowing the natural elements to oxidize and age that piece of beef; it’s a faster process.  (The steak) is dry on the outside and quite pleasant to eat,” he says.

Rubs and grilling


South Africans generally enjoy their meat barbecued.  At Maresch’s restaurants, chefs rub the steaks with a blend of spices, including oregano, paprika, coriander, mustard seeds, salt and thyme.

“We then press our steaks into the rub mix.  It’s then placed on the grill and brushed with salted butter while it’s grilling,” the restaurateur explains.

Most South Africans prefer their steaks medium rare, according to Maresch.  But one of his grillers, Peter Mahlangu, says plenty also like their meat rare or even “very rare.”  Maresch jokes that customers who order steaks well done are “allowed to leave out the back door.”      

He continues, “It’s going to be interesting to find out what other famous meat eaters, like the South and North Americans and the French and the Australians think of our beef.”

The beef Maresch sells is the best he’s ever tasted, he says – and he’s eaten steaks all over the world, including in perhaps the most famous of cattle areas, Texas, in the United States.  

“That’s not an arrogant sales pitch.  I invite anyone – especially people who are going to be visiting us for the World Cup – to taste South African meat.  I’m sure they’ll be amazed.”   

He says it may well be that another international tournament will happen in South Africa at the same time as the football jamboree – the “Beef World Cup!”  

You May Like

Photogallery Pope's Easter Prayer: Peace in Ukraine, Syria

Pontiff also calls for end to terrorist acts in Nigeria, violence in Iraq, and success in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians More

Abdullah Holds Lead in Afghan Presidential Election

Country's Election Commission says that with half of the ballots counted, former FM remains in the lead with 44 percent of the vote More

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid