The weather is scorching and its officially BBQ season. We celebrated with our first BBQ of the year a couple weeks ago, but why do I love 'em so much? Because that's just what South Africans do.
BRAAI is an Afrikaans word meaning barbecue or grill. Growing up, there were always braai's going on every weekend (sometimes even in the rain). With a rugby game happening in the background, my mom would be baking 'mielie' bread and apple pie while I was in charge of making the salad and my sister (who was never too fond of the kitchen) would stir some mayonnaise into a can of baked beans and slice up some banana for the bean salad. While this was all going on, my dad would be outside grilling up a meat storm, including boerewors (a traditional South African farmers sausage), lamb chops, steak and sosaties (kebabs). PLEASE NOTE: No hamburgers or Hot dogs America! He would always cook the meat perfectly while sipping on an ice cold 'savanna dry' with a lemon wedge in the spout.
For the longest time (before the days of Weber) my dad would cook on this 3 legged (with one leg missing and a bunch of bricks propping it up) contraption and that is where he taught me to start the braai by lighting the firelighters and moving the coals between the flames with my bare hands. South Africans always cook with charcoal or wood, never gas.
With friends, I enjoyed many "bring-and-braais" which would mean you bring your own meat and drinks and maybe a packet of chips (Chutney knick-knacks were always my staple) and all come together to cook, chat, laugh and have a great time.
Last Summer when I had just started dating my (now)husband he would always look at me and my South African friends a little strange when we pulled out the chicken and steak when it was time to do the bbqing. After a while I had to explain to him what a traditional South African braai was. He is still a hot dog and hamburger type of guy.
BBQing reminds me of home and I guess that is why I love them so much. There is nothing like being outdoors, surrounded with great company.