Happy Heritage Day to all my South African brothers.
For all the rest of you good people who don't know what I'm on about, please help yourselves to your recommended daily allowance of useless information below:
Today we celebrate Heritage Day, a holiday who's official purpose is to celebrate and explore our wide and diverse cultural heritage.
Unofficially, it is known as national braai day. Now, a braai is a method of outdoor cooking not dissimilar to the American cook-out or bar-b-cue (not the low and slow smoke one, more the grilling sort), the love of which which cuts across all ethnicities, creeds and cultures here.
More than this, it is an intrinsic part of the South African way of life. For example if you have ever visited SA and not been invited to partake of a braai, then your stop-over at the airport has probably been of less than 25 minutes duration (that being about the amount of time it takes to prepare a good bed of coals).
Traditionally, a braai is cooking meat (or fish or chicken or whatever) over the coals of a wood fire. Lamb chops are ever popular as well as Boerewors (literally farmer's sausage, a spicy meat sausage with a relatively high fat content). Here in the Cape, where I live, snoek is also popular. A snoek is a fish rather like an oversized mackerel which is caught in local waters. Snoek can be spiced or flavoured with lemon and/or garlic butter, but a marinade involving apricot jam is also employed. These days, of course the possibilities regarding things to braai are endless, although I draw the line at vegetarian braais, WTF?
Side dishes may include salads, grilled corn on the cob (mieilies) and pap (a stiff maize porridge served with a tomato and onion gravy), is very popular further north.
So today we braai. Across the land, South Africans of every possible persuasion will be charring meat to varying degrees, more often than not accompanied by the intake of vast quantities of beer.
Braaing is traditionally a male preserve, so today I shall light my fire, light my pipe and stare into the flames and smoke away, all the while moistening my throat from time to time with a nice chilled lager. Tough job, but . . . you know the rest.
Rock on, brothers.