Before I met Braai Boy I thought that Braai was just an African word for a BBQ, oh how wrong I was. A Braai is much much more than cooking food in the open air over charcoal, under an umbrella whilst cremating sausages. A Braai is a process, it is a celebration of booze, banter and all things meaty.
Being in the Army one of Braai Boys favourite sayings is: Prior Preparation Prevents a Piss Poor Performance, this has been said to me many times over the years, good job I love a list isn’t it? Braai Boy applies this to a Braai, there is a specific sequence of events that need to take place to ensure it’s a success.
Braai Boy spends hours, that may be a slight exaggeration, researching marinades and recipes, his aim is to ensure that the meat will be the most tender and the most tasty meat ever. Off to the butchers he trots with his list, yes he does write them occasionally. At the butchers he is like a Kid in a sweetie shop he wants ALL the meat. When he returns home sometime later he proudly shows me all his meaty purchases. There is one item that is guaranteed to be in the shopping bag every time, his eyes will light up as he shows me the biggest, bloodiest, thickest piece of cow he can possibly get. I feign interest nodding and ‘uh-huh’ing when appropriate, all the while wondering how much he’s spent when I could have got 3 BBQ packs for a tenner at the supermarket.
I then leave him in the kitchen to prepare the meat, and no I don’t offer to help, the Braai is his baby and it’s my night off cooking. With the meat marinating in the fridge off he pops to the shops, Braai Boy can pop to the shops because he doesn’t have to take two kids with him, I rarely get to pop anywhere. On his return we once again have the big reveal, the ales for the cooking, the wine for the eating and the sides to go with the meat. When I say sides I actually mean a bag of prepared salad, the Braai is all about the meat, the salad is just for show. Once upon a time when we were newly weds I made roast veg couscous and goats cheese for dinner, I was very impressed with my venture into vegetarian cooking. Braai Boy got home, looked at the plate of food then opened the oven looking for the meat, there was none, he was not impressed, you see, Braai Boy doesn’t do no meat, I have never ever made a vegetarian dish ever again. Anyway, I digress.
Next he gets round to setting up the actual Braai. Charcoal and firelighters are placed, yes that’s right, placed not chucked, into the chimney. Then the fire is lit, and we wait. Once the charcoal is white the coals are carefully almost lovingly, poured into the Braai and the grill placed over them.
At long last, we are on to the main event.
Now this is where all the action happens, or not as the case may be. You’ve heard the expression it’s a marathon not a sprint? Well, that can be applied to a Braai Boy Braai. With a beer in one hand and the tongs in the other Braai Boy takes his position by the fire, and so it begins.
A word of warning here, if you are invited to our house for a Braai do not arrive hungry, you could be in for a long wait for food. The cooking is slow and steady, the drinking not so much. Standing round the Braai is about the banter, the beer and the meat. Pretty much this is how it goes: drink, chat, turn meat, drink, chat, drink, chat, turn meat, drink, chat, drink, chat, turn meat, and so on until everyone is half cut and starving and only then is the food finally served.
That said, tonight we will BBQ, you see Braai Boy is at work and the preparation is left to me. I’ll be dragging Miss Sassy and Wee Man down to the shops to pick up 3 for a tenner.