Introducing Biltong by Ayoba-Yo!
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Meat is a major component of South African culture. Make friends with a South African, and you’ll surely be invited to have a “bring & braai” with them. What does this mean? Well, it’s a lot like a BYOB barbecue in the states. Women typically make and bring along side dishes like potato bake, fruit salad and garlic bread. Dessert will most certainly include malva pudding with custard. Upon arrival to a braai, the guys will crowd around the fire pit, light the coal, and build the fire, all while discussing the latest rugby stats and other news of the week. Usually, each guest brings their own meat and drinks. Popular meats often include steaks, chops and boerewors. The latter, which directly translates as farmer sausage, is a type of beef and pork sausage that is cooked on the grill in a long, spiral shape, unlike smaller links. Biltong and droëwors are often the snacks of choice, while crowded by the fire, waiting for the meat to cook.
Biltong, not to be confused as bull tongue due to its pronunciation, is simply dried meat. Droëwors is dried thin sausage. According to South African history, the Voortrekkers, who were Dutch settlers similar to American pilgrims, traveled by wagon along with their oxen in the 1830s, from the Western Cape into the heart of the country, seeking farmland and an escape from British rule. During the pilgrimage, they needed staple foods with a shelf life, thus developing biltong and droëwors, as well as rusks, which are dehydrated biscuits. To this day, a visit to a game farm is a popular South African weekend family activity, resulting in slabs of meat to season and dry for biltong, as well as stacks of boerewors.
Wiehan missed this part of his culture when he moved to the states… that is, until we discovered Ayoba-Yo! I first read about this small family company in the spring of 2017, in Northern Virginia Magazine, a publication for which I regularly contribute photographs. Excited to stumble on this piece of South African culture, I looked up their website and purchased a few packets of biltong to try. Wiehan’s heart was warmed by this little taste of home! Ayoba-Yo sells a variety of meats, including traditional biltong, spicy biltong, droëwors, boerewors and even a braai spice blend! And they do it all with fresh, natural ingredients.
In modern-day South Africa, the meat at a braai is often seasoned with Marina Braai Salt, which is unfortunately full of inflammatory ingredients like Monosodium Glutamate (MSG), vegetable oil and gluten. It also contains irradiated spices, meaning that the ingredients have been exposed to radiation for the purpose of extending shelf life. However, from a healthier standpoint, Ayoba-Yo’s spice blend contains just 4 ingredients: coriander, worcestershire powder, sea salt, and cracked black pepper. That’s it! Their products are gluten-free, paleo & keto friendly, packed with protein, naturally flavored and sugar free. And while their products originated with grain fed meat, they have recently begun to offer biltong and droëwors from grass fed meat as well, which is our preference. Though with a nightshade allergy, I technically can’t eat most of their products because the worcestershire powder contains tomato. But the droëwors contains beef, vinegar, sea salt, water, coriander, black pepper and cloves. So if you’re on the AIP diet, like me, you might consider checking this one out, if you can tolerate black pepper, which technically isn’t a nightshade. But for everyone else, if you’re in the U.S., be sure to check out their products! Ayoba-Yo.com or check out their store locator to see if their products are stocked in a shop near you! And be sure to check out our YouTube video introducing biltong here!
We’re publishing this post on September 24th, in honor of a public holiday in South Africa officially called Heritage Day, but unofficially termed Braai Day. We hope everyone in SA has a wonderful day, with a delicious braai, and the company of family and friends!