Every day is a braai day

Braai fire

A weekend isn't really a weekend in Cape Town if it doesn't include at least one braai, is it? We had ours last night, with a couple of really good friends that we hadn't seen for a while.

If you're not familiar with the workings of a braai (which is kind of like a barbecue, just better :P ), here's a fairly typical description of what takes place:

Guests arrive, bringing meat (steak, lamb chops, sosaties and boerewors are the most popular choices) and drinks (beer is almost mandatory, at least for the guys, but red wine is a favourite too, and if you're in the northern suburbs then it's Klippies and Coke, of course). It's customary for each guest or couple to bring a side dish or a packet of chips, or even dessert - and this is usually arranged with the host beforehand. In our case, our hosts had told us not to bring anything, so we took them some easter eggs and sparkling grape juice instead. It's just not polite to arrive empty-handed. :)

Most of the time, you'll find the women in the kitchen for at least part of the evening, while the men are outside... um... tending the fire... or something. They make it seem terribly important, anyhow. It's a funny thing, because I'm sure that most of us girls could braai the meat if we wanted to, but this is one area of our lives where gender roles seem to have stuck. And you know what? I think we're all pretty okay with that.

So the guys cook the meat, while the girls get all the other bits and pieces set out on the table or the kitchen counter (potato salad, Greek salad, noodle salad, corn-on-the-cob, braaied mushrooms, and garlic bread are a few of the most common side dishes you'll see), and once the meat is cooked, everyone helps themselves, drinks are replenished, and we sit down together (outside if it's still warm enough - or, at some of the braais I've been to, even if it isn't) and eat until we can eat no more.

Bet you're hungry now, aren't you?

11 thoughts on “Every day is a braai day

  1. Firefly

    You missed something. Although all the men would be standing outside by the fire and may all braai their own meat later, you don’t mess with the host’s fire. He and he alone tends the fire. It is an insult to interfere. LOL.

  2. Deems

    Yeah, braai etiquette is very important and should always be adhered to :)

    Forget what Zuma said about “the only true white South African” – The Braai is what makes us ALL true South Africans.

    Keep up the great work guys and gal – pity you didn’t make the SABA’s this year – next time!

  3. Beverley

    Love this photo as I also love Braai’s well BBQ’s to us and yesterday (Sunday) we had our first one which bought back happy memories of our Braai’s in Cape Town..

  4. mjw

    The South African braai is sacred even to vegetarians.

    And you left out the part where we sometimes braai in the middle of winter while it’s raining. :)

  5. Paul

    @Kerry-Anne – Beer “almost mandatory”? It’s freekin’ compulsory. :D

    Braais are so important in South Africa that there’s an entire day set aside for them. The day use to be know as National Braai Day (an unofficial celebration on Heritage Day). Last year the day was renamed to Braai4Heritage – and is a call to all South Africans to celebrate their heritage by lighting up a braai on the official Heritage Day, 24 September.

  6. Paul

    @mjw – Yes! There have been many braais tended by the host from under a lonely umbrella or, perhaps more typically, under a soaked beach umbrella.

  7. Martin "Boere Boi" from the LANDS

    As a seasoned braai-meester and well economist I would like to suggest the following rules of thumb that should be considered when attending a braai.

    1) If you’re on SA soil it’s a “braai”. Calling it something else should be considered treason.
    2) If you are not he one doing the braaing pay special attention to what you bring to throw oven the coals; make sure all you meat is fully defrosted, don’t bring huge chunks of chicken – it takes forever to cook and it’s (relative to other braai fleis) difficult to know when it’s cooked through. Wors, steak, chicken breasts, any kebabs are always easy and won’t distract the men from their conversations about sport and women.
    3) Never arrive empty handed – even if you are asked to. A bottle of wine or some chips are always welcome. Leave any such items behind if they are not consumed; consider it a venue tax.


  8. Paul

    Martin, thanks for the great comment. On all three points I have to agree. I recently heard an SA radio (or was it TV?) advert referencing a braai as a barbeque. Like, what’s with that? That company should have 100 points deducted immediately.

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