This is a truly South African post, especially for all our foreign readers! I should begin with a howzit (South African for How iz it going?), not to mention a serenade from the vuvuzela…
No sooner has the commercial dust settled on Halloween, and blog friends around the world exchange their pursuit of the perfect pumpkin to a quest for the fattest Thanksgiving Turkey, that South African’s begin the annual summer long ritual of the braai (pronounced “bry” rhymes with “try” or “sky”).
South Africa celebrates National Heritage Day way back in September and this is also known, believe it or not, as National braai day… I kid you not, it is official!!! This is the day when men and women of all shapes and sizes take to the outdoors, whether spring has sprung or not, to incinerate their food over an open fire. We usually wait a couple of weeks for the ice to thaw on the pool and the gentle gale force southerly breeze of summer gains enough momentum to fan the flames of our roaring fire.
The timing of a braai is indeed an exact science and only African Time will do… this is an all day event. This is typical South African for just now, which means really any time in the foreseeable future. In other words if you are ever invited to a braai make sure you eat something before hand. Typically for a lunch time braai if you arrive at noon you will discuss the design and building of the fire at length, and maybe light it up by two… the coals should be ready by four and the food ready to serve anytime between five and six. If you are invited over for a supper braai add on the appropriate number of hours to the schedule and hope that you eat by midnight!!!
Traditionally braais are performed in huge gallon drums sawn in half, but you could use an old wheelbarrow. A raging fire is lit and then observed for hours until the ensuing coals are just right to cook a banquet of food for you, your entire extended family and their extended family too. It is a rite of passage for South African children to grow up with a pair of braai tongs in their hands and messing around with the burning coals – you will have to trust me on this too!!!
Braai’s are really all about friends:
Some may say it’s a boys club – but girls are just as braai mad as boys – who wouldn’t be!!!
It takes all types to have a braai:
The potential cook:
The girl in pink:
Now braai is short for braaivleis and vleis is the Afrikaans word for meat so while some folk might braai their vegetables over the fire it is mostly and totally all about the meat – particularly boerewors, another South Africanism for fat farmers sausage. Now if someone ever invites you over for a fish braai – cancel whatever you are doing and get there – simply heaven!!! Really you can cook anything on your braai – mielies (some call them corn) and roosterkoek (roast cake or bread).
We settled for malvellitjies, you may call them marshmallows.
I have tried to put the South African words in italics for you, perhaps I need a Saturday Spot: The South African Dictionary – just so that you can understand that all is not “The Queen’s English”!!!