I really thought I wasn’t going to do a South African version of Supermarket Souvenirs, because what appeal could the local supermarkets possibly have to me after calling this place home for so many years? Would I be able to forget the countless hours I spent waiting in lines, grumpy salespeople who didn’t know fish sauce from soy sauce, and kids in the check-out aisles fighting over small packets of chips & gummies? Apparently so because upon my first trip to Woolworth I almost caught a cold for spending 20 delightful minutes in the freezing aisles looking for cut heirloom veggies wearing nothing but shorts and flip-flops – my kind of Cape Town souvenirs!
After spending way too much money in under an hour this afternoon on numerous presents for myself and friends, I realized: I do still know (and appreciate) where to get the good stuff here. So while I’m using the term supermarket very, very loosely, I put together a few things you should get when you want something local and lekker, some true South African souvenirs that are not beaded or previously had eyes (looking at you zebra rug).
Cape Town Souvenirs
*Also, note, how I managed NOT to have my Cape Town souvenirs eaten by not one but two greedy bull terriers or have anything blown into the pool due to a strong South Easterly. I quickly did eat all the yoghurt covered nuts during and after the shoot so they wouldn’t suffer, but that is neither here nor there…*
Enmasse linen spray
Enmasse is my favorite massage parlor in town. In fact, their shiatsus are so good that I once described them as “As good as a massage can get without a happy ending”. Yup, that good. They have also cleverly started to bottle up the way the whole places smells: heavenly. You can now buy that heavenly smell as linen spray, mind you, I use the term linen loosely as in surely the clothes I’m wearing right now can be considered linen?! It has long been a staple gift between my friend Julia and I and I believe that with or without a massage voucher attached it makes the perfect little Mitbringsel for locals here or abroad. For the tea drinkers amongst you, check out their awesome selection of unusual tea mixtures as well.
Yoghurt covered nuts
If it’s for sale at a store called Wellness Warehouse it can’t be bad for you, can it? And especially not if it contains yoghurt, right? Mh, this might be the one exception, but honestly, their yoghurt covered mixed nuts are totally worth the illusion (also available as peanuts and raisins). They are my favorite fake healthy treat and a great alternative to your usual biltong or dried mango gift.
Another something I picked up from Wellness Warehouse is face oil and eye serum from Victorian Garden. Victorian Garden is a local, organic brand I have used and loved for a long time. I am a sucker for face oils at night and theirs have always been a favorite of mine. I have been eyeing the Revitalising Flower Therapy Facial Serum (I will admit the name is a mouthful) for a long time, but honestly, it was always a bit too pricey (ca. ZAR 250) while I lived here. Mind you the bottle is probably going to last me a year and now that I’m paying with a grown-up currency I have decided to give it a try. It’s supposed to revitalize your skin completely overnight and whatever that may mean, I cannot wait to try it!
Dan Hugo is one of the world’s most famous triathletes and a good acquaintance of mine due to some jobs we worked on together back in the day. He has started his own company of nut butters and spreads called ButtaNutt and I have become completely obsessed with them. In lieu of honey, I had bought the almond honey spread and fell in love with it. Now I am trying the Macadamia Coconut Rooibos because – how much better can it get?! I am telling myself to keep it closed until I fly home next week, but it has been very hard – I cannot wait to try it! If you wonder why you should be eating nut butter and such in the first place, I recommend you google Dan. If you end up looking like him for eating things like nut butter, I reckon they are worth their money…
I have said it about her before and I will say it again: Tammy Frazer is a fragrance magician. If you don’t want to deal with carrying her fragile handblown glass flacons or wooden jars with heavenly smelling shea butter, I recommend her Parfum Solide. Perfect for travelers and stay-at-homers and for you the gift giver as they are tiny and light. All of her fragrance ‘chapters’ are available as this solid perfume in either a tiny Protea Porcelain container or a carved African Blackwood wood box. Rarely was a smell that pretty too!
Watershed V&A Waterfront
If you are looking for an array of great South African souvenirs and artisanal products I recommend heading to the Watershed, Cape Town. While there is no shortage of markets in Cape Town the stalls are a bit more curated here. So while you will still find your good old beat work and yes, animal rugs, this is also a great place to score some local designer goodies. Look out for clothing brands like Mungo & Jemima, beautiful pottery from Wonki Ware and the awesome rope jewelry from Pichulik.
What are your favorite things to buy and take home in South Africa, any other Cape Town souvenirs I can add? I still have a few days left here so I’d be keen to find some more gems to add to the list.