Friends + Fire + Food … Welcome to the art of the South African inspired braai. Don’t forget the wine!
The Food: A South African Inspired Braai
I was fortunate to experience a South African inspired braai with friends when visiting Ithaca earlier this summer. If Ithaca seems an unlikely place for a South African inspired braai, your compass is not wrong. Our hosts, my friend Marlene and her family, spent time in South Africa as part of her parents’ professorial careers. Having experienced the braai through the hospitality of the many South Africans they met, my friend’s family quickly latched onto the simple pleasure of the braai. It’s now a tradition they share with their guests.
Friends, wood and fire, meats grilled over a flame, a smattering of veggies, preferably corn on the cob, and wine. This is the simple yet profound appeal of the South African braai.
According to this Saveur article, there are a few important rules to consider if you want to learn the art of the braai:
1. Seek out wood (gas is a copout). Check!
2. Think about your meat (quality + humanely raised ideally). Check!
3. Consider lamb. Check!
4. Consider the heat: Braai heat should be varied according to ingredients. Check!
5. Bring Wine (done and done!) Check!
The Personal: Braai + Budding Friendships
Life is full of so many choices and incremental steps. It’s why I choose to believe in synchronicity, to see the magic in how many seemingly inconsequential choices lead to profound connections.
The choice to plant a seed, to meet others with dirt under their nails, to forage flowers for a wedding, to let conversations spill over hot coffee and toast, to host a brunch that bleeds into wine, cheese, and the setting of the sun.
As summer begins to fade, I’ve been looking at all these little moments, to the friendships they forged, and I’m filled with deep gratitude. Saying yes to a last-minute trip to upstate New York led to jumping and laughing hysterically on a trampoline, to a dance party under the stars, to a particular Italian song that is forever our anthem, to smoky meats and the smell of fire in our clothes and hair.
That trip led to hikes, to deck dinners, to sand in our toes and sun on our hair, to laughter, to so much laughter! Life is full of difficult times, challenging emotions, and hardships and they’re different for everyone. But sometimes these murkier times lead to the brightest of new opportunities that never would have transpired. This is what I’m currently holding so close to my heart.