The Brrrraai

Perhaps the most important part of South African culture is the braai. Spoken with a long ‘r’ that rolls off the tongue, a braai is essentially a barbecue. South Africans take them very seriously, and several rules must be observed while engaging in a braai.
1.) The heat source must be wood. Charcoal is low quality stuff around here.
2.) There must be no flame. The initial roaring fire must settle down to red-hot coals, then the cooking can commence.
3.) Meat must not be stabbed with forks or knives; this is especially important when cooking boerewurz (a juicy South African sausage). All the tasty juices must be left within the meat or the sausage casing.
4.) Copious amounts of wine are to be consumed, preferably pinotage, a South African specialty.
Ninety percent of my dinners have been prepared at a braai on one of the residence halls’ many braai pits. The ability to cook food outdoors is helpful since our kitchen cooking equipment is extremely rudimentary, but it also lends itself towards a great social atmosphere. Each braai never has fewer than 20 people, with many different countries in attendance. Long conversations with interesting people from far flung corners of the globe occur over glasses of wine and slow cooked meat, and an extremely tight-knit atmosphere develops. I can already tell that one thing I will miss about South Africa will be the braai: its smells, tastes, and the conversations with the people it brings together.

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