We have just celebrated Nasionale Braai Dag (National Braai Day) or, as it is officially declared as part of the public holiday system in South Africa, Heritage Day. This is a yearly celebration on the 24th of September. I think you can imagine what we as a nation do on this day – we braai! Although we have 11 official languages in our country the word braai is understood across the board.
Now there are no ”official” rules for having a braai. The people of the Rainbow Nation each has his/her own preference on the when, how and what to braai. Some of us like to have a basic fire place where you can sit as close as possible to the fire when it is cold – and do not mind smelling like smoke – and some of us like to do a classy braai in a build-in fireplace inside the house or on the stoep. For most of my fellow citizens a braai is not about grilling the meat on a gas barbeque.
First of all, the choice of firewood has to be sorted. If you come from the Winelands you will probably prefer old grape vines, but if you are from the maize producing areas you may prefer to build your fire from maize cobs. A popular wood, which is also freely available, is the alien Black Wattle and Rooikrantz or the option of charcoal. It is all about taking time to sit around the fire and chat while you wait for the coals to get ready. As a guest, it is very important to remember that the host is the one who starts the fire and will decide when it is ready for the meat to go on the fire!
The host will stipulate beforehand whether it is a “bring and braai” or not, but this is not always the case. You will be notified if you will have to bring your own meat and/or salad, etc. Remember that you are only allowed to braai your own meat if you are told so. So, listen carefully!!
What do we like to braai? Our creative nation loves our meat – anything from red meat, chicken, sausages, sosaties, fish or a braai pie. We are always ready to try our hand at something new! And with your choice of meat you will be served braai broodjies or garlic bread or pap en sous and a salad ….. or just meat!
A braai in South Africa is a social event, most public places have braais available. In a campsite, you will have braai stands, but mostly each campsite will have an individual braai place. Apart from braai we love to travel and if you do self catering accommodation the chances are excellent that you will have access to a braai space. And when on holiday, South Africans will braai.
We even made a plan on Christmas eve in Sudan where wood is really a problem to find. As you can see from the pictures you make do with what you have, as long as we can braai and enjoy some good company.
Do we only braai on National Braai Day? No! The Rainbow Nation will always look for an excuse to enjoy their favourite pastime any day of the week and regardless of the weather conditions. The braai rules are actually very simple: make your choice of meat and wood and braai regardless the weather!