Ancient Braai Wisdom

Come with us on a philosophical journey as we explore the deeper meaning of the traditional Mzanzi braai. Let’s go beyond the braai… that sounds pretty cool, right? Beyond the braai.


No matter where we move, us South Africans will always take a little bit of the homeland with us. The braai is more than just a way to cook food, it is a ritual enshrined in tradition. Igniting the fire and getting the coals ready is a rite of passage to all South Africans, no matter which side of the colour spectrum you reside.

Whether it’s the weekend, Puza Thursday or Heritage Day we always have an excuse to braai. You see, there is an art to it all – be it using charcoal, briquette, or wood to make the fire with. The salted braaimaster swears by the latter because it’s a back-to-basics type of approach to making a fire and the wood lends a smoky flavour to the meat being cooked.
As high-tech and easy as gas braais are, we don’t consider that braaing… sorry, boet but anyone can open the burner and click the pilot light into place. Besides, gas does not add any flavour to the chops or steak, boerie or ribs. YouTubers, Wines of South Africa has put together a brilliant and easy to follow guide on how to make a fire using wood (see video below).

A braai has the ability to bring friends and families, and even strangers, together. We have all stood next to a braai with a beer in hand, looking at the hot coals and making small talk with new acquaintances about the UEFA Cup or America’s Top Model. If you think about it, braais are happy occasions: time to blow off steam, not worry about work or your shrinking savings account. Even the smell of your neighbours braaing has the ability to lift your mood.

So, in conclusion, and seeing as Heritage Day is coming up (at the time of writing, at least) why not go check out new shisha nyama spots or organise a big braai and make new friends.

By Shawn Greyling

What are your thoughts on a braai being as good as therapy? Tell us in the comments section below. Share the spirit of the fire by posting this article on social media. One love. 

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One thought on “Ancient Braai Wisdom

  1. I must disagree, you can kind of braai on gas and get a braai flavour, not that I myself braai on gas but I have used my fathers gas braai and remember putting volcanic rock in. The juices and sauces fall on the hot volcanic rock creating smoke giving a “braai” flavour. Griddle pans work the same way, I love my griddle pan, it can give me the perfect steak.
    But a braai is a braai, you need wood or at the least decent charcoal, being a salted braaimaster I wouldn’t touch briquettes!

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