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Image courtesy of Ayoba-Yo.com

Image courtesy of Ayoba-Yo.com

Attention all jerky-lovers and trend-aware food peoples: We've got a new one for you.

Have you heard of biltong? It's a salty, dried meat delicacy native to South Africa--basically the South African version of American beef jerky. The word comes from the Dutch words bil, meaning "rump," and tong, meaning "strip" or "tongue."

The staple ingredients used to make biltong are meat (ranging from beef to game meats), vinegar (a crucial part of the curing process), and a blend of aromatic spices (think pepper, salt, coriander, and cloves).

In South Africa (and The States increasingly), it's a popular choice for snacking--eaten plain or sometimes on slices of bread with cheese, but can also be chopped up and tossed into stews or added to muffins--yes, muffins. If you can get your hands on some of this stuff, we would highly recommend you do. The texture falls somewhere in between jerky and prosciutto, and each salty-chewy bite is some kind of wonderful.

Speaking of getting your hands on it, biltong isn't exactly "mainstream" yet in the U.S. (you can occasionally find it at specialty supermarkets and stores), so we'd suggest ordering online if you're hankering for a sample. Here are a few places you can score it:

This small, family-owned company is best known for their Biltong Beef Snacks, and, unlike most jerkies on the market, Ayoba-Yo biltong snacks contain no sugar or artificial ingredients. One of our editors recently met the folks behind Ayoba-Yo at the Summer Fancy Food Show, sampled their goods, and came back raving.

Headquartered in North Carolina, Biltong USA was the first manufacturer in the country to get the USDA approval for packaging and selling biltong. They offer a variety of gourmet biltong products that can be purchased online, and their products can also be found at specialty stores in certain parts of the country.

For authentic, South African biltong (and other traditional South African goods), you'll want to check out The South African Food Shop. This USDA-approved company that's headquartered in North Carolina (but for real, what's up with North Carolina and biltong?) happens to be the primary seller of biltong for Amazon, so they must be pretty legit.