When in South Africa, do as the South Africans do! And that means…braai! You won’t be sorry.
All jokes aside, if you taste fresh meat off braais South Africa has to offer you, this will probably become your favorite country to visit. Braais are synonymous with us, which is why it’s no surprise there’s even a ‘Braai Day’ in September.
But isn’t it just another day to barbeque? No! It’s a day to BRAAI. If you didn’t know, for a braai it’s essential to cook meat over coals, not by using a gas grill. And here’s why it’s so much better than the BBQ the rest of the world is used to.
Braais are so popular because South Africans know the activity can carry on for hours! That means loads of time to have fun, get to know each other and relax. There’s no rush to get the meat done and dish up because it’s much more about enjoying people’s company than just having a meal.
Who is in Charge?
Part of the experience, while you spend time together, is watching the person in charge. Yes, there’s a dedicated person taking care of the meat on the braai, called the Braai Master. Watching his skill and hearing his opinions on the right way to braai—each person has a different method of course—are part of the braai experience.
Every braai can be a magical experience because there’s no reason for it to get boring. South Africans braai all kinds of meat, so try a steak this week and put some chicken on the coals next time. This keeps meals interesting, rather than simply having hamburgers or hot dogs every time.
There are very few guidelines when it comes to dishes to eat with the meat. From salads to starch like the ever-popular ‘braaibroodjies’ you can add almost anything and people will appreciate your creativity. This makes it a safe meal option, even for those with food preferences. Simply add a side dish that’s vegetarian or vegan, and everyone’s happy!
Have your first bite and you’ll agree that a braai adds a unique taste and flavor to the food. In part, this is because it’s done over open coals or wood that add to the flavor. The result is much different—better—than meat coming from a metal grill.
No one is possessive about the legacy of the ‘braai’. And in a country with so many different cultures—often in conflict—mutual interests are valuable. Something as simple as a meal can bring people together. You’ll find all cultures comfortable and happy around a braai fire.
A braai can be any size. After all, all you need is a fire and a grid to place your meat on. You don’t need a large barbeque grill, so to braai is to be mobile. You can set it up anywhere, whether you’re at the beach, watching sports in a stadium or camping in the middle of the Karoo.
You Don’t Need an Excuse to Braai
Lastly, know to not expect a big celebration when you attend your first SA braai. It won’t necessarily be someone’s birthday or even Christmas. Braais simply ‘happen’. Even on weekdays.
We’ve got your mouth watering, right? It’s going to be even better than you imagine. The good news, in South Africa you don’t always have to wait for an invitation. If you hear about a braai someone is going to, simply go along. In SA, there’s always an extra piece on the braai, just for in case.