South African traditional food
Biltong, a favourite among many South Africans. Image: SAPeople

Home » Biltong is one of Africa’s most confusing cuisines

Biltong is one of Africa’s most confusing cuisines

‘What is biltong’ is a popular worldwide search, with the rest of the world still unsure about SA’s delicious delicacy…

04-10-23 22:09
South African traditional food
Biltong, a favourite among many South Africans. Image: SAPeople

Thousands of people search for ‘what is biltong’ on Google each year because they’re confused about what it is and want to know more. Many have now heard of it because of an increasing number of South Africans settling abroad, from Colombia to China, Australia to Austria… and biltong is the one thing SA expats miss so much, they usually find a way to make it, or find an SA butcher near them! Or, like SA comedian Trevor Noah, they try to bring it in their luggage after a trip back home (see video below).

A new study has revealed the world’s most confusing dishes with biltong appearing in the top 10 for ‘most confusing cuisines’ in Africa. Egypt’s Falafel is the second most confusing in the world, and most confusing on the continent apparently (752,850 searches). Morocco’s cous cous is Africa’s second most confusing (just over half a million searches) with Biltong at number 6 where it generated 74,510 searches. Another South African delicacy that causes confusion is Sambals (61,500 searches).

The top three confusing dishes in the world are kimchi (Korea) with almost a million searches, falafel and pho (Vietnam). Even the US’s famous ‘peanut butter and jelly’ ranks high for being confusing (since the jelly is more like jam!). Scotland’s national dish haggis ranking in 13th place worldwide.

FYI – Kimchi is made up of salted and fermented vegetables (often radish or cabbage); falafal is usually made from faba beans, broad beans or ground chickpeas (or all three); Gyros is made up of meat (often chicken) cooked on a vertical rotisserie which is sliced and wrapped in pita bread along with salad, french fries and tzatziki. (The Turkish shawarma is similar except spicier.)

Remitly, a financial services provider for immigrants, analysed 2,700 dishes from over 165 countries around the world, to find the cuisines that cause the most confusion for those trying the delicacies. Search terms included ‘what is’ and ‘how to pronounce’. (See more here.)

Gyros (Greece), pho and gnocchi (Italy) were found to be the top three most difficult to pronounce dishes. And we all know how to pronounce biltong!!!

10 Most Difficult To Pronounce Cuisines 

RankDish NameCorrect PronunciationCountryAnnual Global Search Volume
1GyrosYi · rosGreece346,500
3GnocchiNo · keeItaly123,200
4PizzaPeet · suhItaly53,800
5QuesadillaKay · suh · dee · uhMexico40,200
6FocacciaFuh · kach · ee · uhItaly33,300
7Poke BowlPow · kay bowlUnited States (Hawaii)32,500
8TzatzikiSat · see · keeGreece27,000
9GyozaGee · ow · zuhChina26,800
10BaklavaBa · kluh · vuhTurkey24,120

WATCH Trevor Noah, from The Daily Show 4 years ago: you can’t waste biltong