Braai—the unifying tradition of good, old-fashioned, gather-round-the-fire barbecue. The word braai (pronounced “bry”, rhyming with the word “cry”; plural braais) is Afrikaans for “barbecue” or “roast” and is a social custom in South Africa and Namibia. Braai, a linguistic as well as cultural translation—it’s both a cuisine and a national past time. Whether you speak Afrikaans, English, Zulu, Xhosa or any of our native languages, we all braai! As with the word barbecue, you can throw a braai and braai a steak. Its usage is fluid, and omnipresent.
In backyards and on patios; in the suburbs and deep in the bush; atop shining new grills and on beds of thornbrush: To braai is to gather with friends, often on long, lazy afternoons, and grill meat. Okay yes, it’s similar to a barbecue, but it’s so much more than that. Traditional braai’s are cooked on local wood, such as kameeldoring wood, instead of coal or gas to give the meat a distinct flavour.
You can get more with a kind word and a braai than you can with a kind word alone.Al Capone
Braaing is very much part of the Southern African DNA and it should come as no surprise that South Africans and Namibians have perfected the art of having a great braai. We even have a National Braai Day! This event, which takes place annually on National Heritage Day, 24 September, gives South Africans ( and Namibians… we need no excuse or encouragement to braai!) an opportunity to celebrate the country’s cultural heritage and diversity of traditions.Thousands of South Africans ( and Namibians!) will head outdoors, get the fires going and celebrate the nation’s favourite pastime on National Braai Day.
Learn from yesterday’s braai, live for today’s braai, hope for tomorrow’s braai. The important thing is not to stop questioning why people would boil ribs.Albert Einstein
What do we braai? Lamb is popular and little can compare with a salty fatty lamb rib grilled slowly over the simmering coals. Then there are steaks of all cuts and sizes, grilled to perfection. Chicken is barbecued with or without peri-peri sauce. Side dishes are reliant on sausage ( here we call it boerewors or “farmers’ sausage) and an ingenious variation of the grilled cheese, the famous braaibroodjie.
The traditional South African braaibroodjie certainly deserves a few drum rolls, pom-pom shakes, whoops, and whistles as it enters the stage squarely in the spotlight. While the braaibroodjie will make no speeches of its own, many a long night around the fire has been enjoyed with one in hand. No braai is complete without the ultimate braai side and a braaibroodjie is just that!
Braaibroodjies, yes, grilled cheese sandwiches –South African/Namibian Style. It might just be your new favorite this season. Oeey, gooey, smokey, cheesy, creamy, spicy, sweet and crunchy. Need I say more? This sweet and savoury sandwich is inserted into a foldable grid with handles that keeps it contained and can easily be flipped and grilled to perfection.
A braaibroodjie tastes its best eaten outdoors at the end of a long day of barbecuing, but it is still pretty stellar indoors at lunchtime, and would also make a welcome surprise snack at the end of a cocktail party or as a late night snack.
So on National Braai Day, grab your family and friends, light the fire and braai! And remember to enjoy the humble braaibroodjie with its cheesy soul or give it a special gourmet twist. The choice is yours! From our Kalahari camel-thorn fire to yours, we wish you all a tasty Braai Day!
Recipe on next page.