The word braaivleis (IPA-en|bɹ/ɑe.flæɪs) is Afrikaans for "roasted meat."

The word braai (pronounced "bry", rhyming with the word "cry"; plural braais) is Afrikaans for "barbecue" or "roast" and is a social custom in Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Zambia. It originated with the Afrikaner people,cite book|url=|title=Food Culture in Sub-Saharan Africa|author=Fran Osseo-Asare|pages=p81|isbn=0313324883|publisher=Greenwood Publishing Group|date=2005] but has since been adopted by South Africans of many ethnic backgrounds. The word "vleis" is Afrikaans for "meat".

The word has been adopted by English-speaking South Africans and can be regarded as another word for barbecue, in that it serves as a verb when describing how food is cooked and a noun when describing the cooking equipment, such as a grill. The traditions around a braai can be considerably different from a barbecue, however, even if the method of food preparation is very similar.

While wood formerly was the most widely-used braai fuel, in modern times the use of charcoal has increased due to its convenience, as with barbecues elsewhere in the world. There has however been a renewed interest in the use of wood after the South African government started with its invasive plant species removal program. An important distinction between a braai and a barbecue is that it's fairly uncommon for a braai to use gas rather than an open flame.

The "Bring and Braai"

Similar to a potluck party, this is a grand social event (but still casual and laid-back) where family and friends converge on a picnic spot or someone's home (normally the garden or verandah) with their own meat, salad, or side dish in hand. Meats are the star of the South African braai. They typically include boerewors, sosaties, kebabs, marinated chicken, pork and lamb chops, steaks, sausages of different flavors and thickness, and possibly even a rack or two of spareribs. Fish and crayfish ("kreef" in Afrikaans) are also popular in coastal areas.

The other main part of the meal is pap (Pron-en|pɑp, meaning porridge), or the "krummelpap" ("crumb porridge"), traditionally eaten with the meat. This dish is a staple of local African communities and may be eaten with a tomato and onion sauce,monkeygland sauce or the more spicy chakalaka at a braai.

Sometimes this activity is also known as a "dop 'n chop" ("dop" being Afrikaans slang for an alcoholic drink, literally meaning "cap" or "bottle top") when more drinking than eating is done.

ocial norms

A "braai" is a social occasion that has specific traditions and social norms. In black and white South African culture, women rarely "braai" (cook) meat at a social gathering, as this is normally the preserve of men. The men gather round the "braai" or "braaistand" (the fire or grill) outdoors and cook the food, while women prepare the pap, salads, desserts, and vegetables for the meal in the kitchen. The meal is subsequently eaten outside by the fire/braai, since the activity is normally engaged in during the long summer months. The "braaing" (cooking) of the meat is not the prerogative of all the men attending, as one person would normally be in charge. He will attend to the fire, check that the coals are ready, and "braai" (cook) the meat. Other men may assist but generally only partake in fireside conversation. The person in charge is known as the "braaier" (chef), and if his skills are recognised, could be called upon to attend to the "braai" (BBQ) at other occasions as well.

"Braaivleis" in Popular Culture

General Motors used the term in the 1970s in its localized slogan "Braaivleis, rugby, sunny skies, and Chevrolet" to advertise their cars in South Africa — rather different from "baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet" in the USA. [cite book|title=The Bang-Bang Club|date=2001|isbn=9780465044139|author=Greg Marinovich, Joao Silva|pages=p5]

*Announcer: "Hey, South Africa, what's your favourite food?"
*Crowd: "Braaivleis!"
*Announcer: "Sport?"
*Crowd: "Rugby!"
*Announcer: "Weather?"
*Crowd: "Sunshine!"
*Announcer: "Car?"
*Crowd: "Chevrolet!"
*Announcer: "All together?"
*Crowd (singing): "Braaivleis, rugby, sunny skies and Chevrolet! Braaivleis, rugby, sunny skies and Chevrolet! They go together, in the good old RSA. Braaivleis, rugby, sunny skies and Chevrolet!"

National Braai Day

National Braai Day is an annual celebration that started in 2005, celebrating a part of South African culture on Heritage Day with a braai on 24 September every year. This event was initiated by the Mzansi Braai Institute in South Africa. [cite web|url=|title=National Braaiday, 24th Sep Every Year|accessdate=2007-10-19|date=2007-10-10]


External links

* [ South African Braai Etiquette] - video showing a typical braai

ee also

*Potjiekos, closely related South African cooking tradition in a cast-iron pot on a fire
*Asado, a similar custom in the Pampa region of South America
*Mangal, a similar custom in Turkey

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