The universal

language of braaing

As South Africans, we love to braai. It’s such an important part of our identity that we even refer to Heritage Day as Braai Day.

 

Putting some meat on an open flame, enjoying  drinks and laughter with friends and family, and opening a fridge full of leftovers for the next week is part of our shared cultural identity. But while the way we do things is unique, there are many different cultures around the world that love a good barbecue as much as we do.

North America

In the USA and Canada, a barbecue frequently involves hamburgers and hot dogs on a gas grill, although a charcoal grill does surface from time to time. They also enjoy a good steak or kebab, of course, but there, it’s not a barbecue if there isn’t some tasty meat in a bun.

Argentina

Argentina is one of the countries that really gives South Africa a run for our money. An Argentinian barbecue - or “Asado” - involves massive quantities of meat that’s carefully arranged around a huge bonfire made of wood and pine cones. It’s not unusual to see whole sides of beef in rows, alongside enormous strings of sausage. Of course, these parties usually involve tens, if not hundreds, of guests.

Caribbean

The Caribbean islanders love a good barbecue, and a favourite delicacy is “Lechon”, a slow-roasted whole pig. Depending on which island you visit, you could also enjoy jerk chicken, or pieces of meat slow-roasted on a mesh of wooden sticks.

Asia

Meat on sticks is a common theme across East and Southeast Asia, and pork and seafood feature much more heavily than in a South African context. In India, the tandoor is a popular way of grilling meat on an open flame.

Europe

The Germans and the Scandinavians enjoy a “grillen” almost as much as we love a braai, and while local sausages instead of boerewors feature strongly, it bears more than a passing resemblance to our traditions. However, they take it in a bit of a different direction, often cooking gourmet foods on their braai. The Mediterranean people also bring their own twist to the barbecue, with meats, vegetables and breads all getting  the flame treatment - along with a good dose of olive oil.

 

Why not try experimenting with open flame cuisines of different countries - after all, South Africa is a melting pot of cultures, and you probably know people from all these different backgrounds.