Many South Africans braai on the weekend. They also braai in the week, for breakfast, for lunch, and for dinner. It’s no secret – we love a lekker braai. It has become a part of who we are as a nation. Coal, smoke, mealies and meat are all at the core of what it means to be proudly South African.

Braaing isn’t just about cooking up a big feast. It’s about bringing family and friends together. The act of braaing celebrates all that being a South African encompasses – rich culture, diversity, resilience, unity. It’s a celebration of our Rainbow Nation.

Here are some key things you should know if you want to call yourself a true braai master. 

What is “Braai Culture” and are you part of it?

Braai is a common term across all of the country’s languages. A braai varies from family to family, community to community and culture to culture. But this variation is a part of what makes braai…braai. It is a chance to bring food away from class, racial or social distinction and enjoy something without judgement.

Most of us know our way around a Weber, but where does the word “braai” actually come from?

“Braai” originates from “braden”, meaning roast in Dutch. Add in coal, chop a log, char a steak or two and we’ve landed up with “braai”, which means to grill in Afrikaans. This then grew to become “braaivleis” which is Afrikaans for grilled meat.

What makes up a traditional braai?

A braai consists of meat: your boerewors, chicken, snoek, kebabs. Then, your starch: braai-broodjies, tomato and onion toasties, pap, garlic rolls or the like. Salad if you’re fancy, but many will tell you to spare yourself the effort. And of course, you need to wash it down with a drink: a crispy beer or glass of wine. In South Africa, braais are absolutely acceptable at any hour of the day, for any meal.

What is the most common way to braai?

Many people love their charcoal or gas braais, but it is not the tradition we know. A proper braai fire comes together with wood. Watching a flame dance before putting your meat on the grill is the way to go, and makes for a chilled vibe, allowing you time to chat and catch up with your guests.

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