Tuesday, January 29, 2008

What's a Braai?

What’s a braai?

The back of the bottle of Knorr’s creamy ranch-style dressing says this: “Texan style! Bring adventurous American Ranch spirit to South African braiis. Top your burgers or steak with Knorr Creamy Ranch dressing and drizzle generously over hot chips. Yee-hah!!!!” Yes, there are four exclamation marks after that last word. So what’s all this hyperbole about? And what in the world is a braai?

The dressing is pretty good, but I think the exclamation marks are over the top. However, a braai is a really good thing. Pronounced bri--with the i being long—it is simply the (Afrikaans-based) South African term for a barbecue, or cook-out. We went to our first one Saturday night. Jay-Jay, Kafakumba’s South African director of the woodworking businesses here, had the Enright family and us over for a braai South African style. Their home is located in a very beautiful setting, with a long lane edged in Jacaranda trees, a wide front lawn, a welcoming verandah, and surrounding flowering trees and bushes. The grill was hot and we smelled the succession of chicken, beef, and sausage being cooked. Inside, Jay-Jay put his hand to creating a beautiful fresh salad (feta cheese and huge olives are popular here), arranging Kendra’s potato salad in a bed of parsley, heating the fragrant loaf of fresh bread. The table was set elegantly with china and very tall stemmed crystal. All together, the atmosphere was sumptuous. In the setting of their South African styled home, the effect was simply beautiful.

Added to the good food were the people, not only invited guests, but Zimbabwean friends who stopped in to see them also. A group played games on the verandah, seated at a stylish table and chairs of Rhodesian Teak. The lushness of the natural surroundings, the beauty of their home, wonderful food, and the fellowship of friends, made this a special evening. Don’t think we’re suffering here. I’m telling you the truth: a braii is a wonderful thing.

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