Seafood Fiesta

The Port Elizabeth harbour is the hub of the Eastern Cape coast’s squid fishing fleet. Fresh squid – or calamari as it is called locally – is easy and affordable to come by. Several city restaurants in the city offer seafood specialities and platters including fresh fish, lobster, calamari, mussels and oysters.

Fine examples are from The Oyster Catcher restaurant on the harbour docks or 34 Degrees South in the Boardwalk Casino & Entertainment Centre. Or better still, for seafood DIY, buy it fresh from one of the harbour shops or boats and start a seafood barbecue.

If it’s large Portuguese style prawns you are after, Fernando’s in the Port Elizabeth Central suburb is the place to be. Don’t expect good service, any form of décor or even a soft seat, but the food is guaranteed to be great.

Instant hangover

Not indigenous to South Africa and declared an undesirable plant in 1937, the Port Elizabeth region has the most prickly pears (Opuntia Ficus Indica) in South Africa. Not to frown upon alien plants, locals found ‘proper’ use for it by brewing it into a spirit they call “Turksvy Witblits” – roughly translated from Afrikaans as “Turkish fig  white lightning”. If offered, do not drink more than a tot as it carries a Mike Tyson alcoholic punch. 

The nearby town of Uitenhage’s museum is the only institution with a legal license to distil raw spirit from the prickly pear. “Witblits” is distilled in two 19th century copper stills.

Further north in the Eastern Cape province a local version of tequila is also brewed from the agave plant in the town of Graaff Reinet amply called Agave. Directions for use are same as above.