With winter finally receding in the rearview mirror, it’s time to get serious about summer snacks. Would we even be South African if we weren’t already eagerly planning a summer full of braais and smiles? The rest of the world may wonder how our rainbow nation can bond over a simple BBQ grill, but we know that braaing is essential to all of our unique cultures, and a huge part of what brings us together. September the 24th is Heritage Day, also known as National Braai Day, so today Miami Canner’s will dive into how this iconic way to celebrate friendship and family came to be.
More than just grilled meat
Making food over a fire has a primal drive that bonds us all. In a complex nation like ours, with so many different cultures at every turn, it’s one of the few things that unites us completely. From the township to the penthouse, and across racial lines, we all love our braais.
Heritage Day has been around a long time, urging us to celebrate our culture. In such a massive, diverse country, however, what does that even mean? It was a limp and somewhat underrepresented public holiday for many years. In 2005, Jan Braai, cookbook author and cooking show host, decided he knew exactly how to spice it up- through the art of the braai.
He kicked the movement off in style, touring the country on a ‘braai journey’ showcasing the many different ‘braai cultures’ we bring to the table. Televised on local TV, it became such a hit that the beloved Archbishop Desmond Tutu agreed in 2007 to become the patron of the National Braai Day movement. As he would say, despite our 11 official languages, we all call it a braai at the end of the day.
Uniquely South African
Maybe some people stop and think, “but everyone has BBQs.” True, although no one braais quite like a South African. We’ll braai on a public holiday. We’ll braai because it’s Monday. We’ll braai to warm up the patio, and we’ll braai so we can cool down with a beer. We don’t use gas, and we’ll make assembling a few buns and some grilled meat last all day. We’ll let half the house make a range of delicious salads, breads, and pap (don’t forget your favourite Miami pickles, either), then let the other half claim all the cooking accolades for chatting around the grill and turning the meat every now and again. While you’ll find BBQ culture wherever you go, it just isn’t the same as a braai.
In the end, the braai isn’t about the food or the beer. It’s about a gathering of people united by one thing- their love of food and the outdoors, and our silly, complex, and bizarre country. It’s about fun stories and ridiculous tales of how you ‘had to be there’, and memories made together. And it’s about the connection it builds between us. A braai doesn’t have to be fancy to unite us all. In the end, it just has to be. And that’s what’s so very wonderful about National Braai Day.
We’re proud to offer South Africans anywhere our delicious range of Miami braai relishes and condiments, perfect to help you enjoy your National Braai Day from start to finish without extra hassle. After all, we’re all one Big Miami family at the end of the day. Add an extra wors roll to the pile for us!