The Australian likes the outdoors. He likes a bit of time in the garden, down the beach, out in the bush. So it stands to reason that he should make a good braai. But to be blunt, he doesn’t. There is no art to the Aussie braai. In fact, you can hardly even call it a barbeque, never mind a braai. It is more like outdoor stoving.
The Aussie cooks his meat over LPG. On a Liquefied Petroleum Gas stove that just happens to be outside. There is no wood, no charcoal, not even a lowly briquette. Just a turn of the valve, a push of a button and he is away. Sizzling sausages on naked propane fumes.
I have been told it is about ease, getting the job done quickly and with minimum fuss. Well, you could have used the microwave.
The braai is an act of love. A ritual that predates the pyramids. It is a line drawn from the dawn of time until this Saturday, 11am. Because that’s what time you start a braai. You don’t start it one minute before your guests arrive. The fire must burn. It must be discussed, and debated. It must be revered by all and sundry.
Maybe it is a third world thing. When I say third world, I mean it in the most gangsta sense of the word, because people from the first world don’t seem to get the braai. So many people have come over to my house for a braai, and said nothing of the fire. Asked nothing of the wood or the temperature. The only people who do are the South Africans, the Zimbos and the South Americans. A Chilean girlfriend of a friend showed more interest in the quality of the wood and the fire than any of the Aussie blokes we know. Now I am not saying that fires need to be a man thing, they certainly don’t, the braai loves everyone, but I will judge you if they are not your thing, and you happen to be a man.
Over the last year, I have preached the cause of the braai to anyone who will listen. But the message doesn’t really sink in. And it is not polite to go to another’s home and complain about the offerings. Even if they are blackened on car fuel. You just have to eat, smile and drink a few more of their beers to make up for the insult to the meat.
Because ultimately that is what it comes down to. It is an insult to the meat. Cows, pigs, chickens, lambs, and those unidentified animals they put in boerewors, all died so we can eat. Show them the love they deserve: a real braai.