Volunteer Experiences
March 23, 2015

A Braai in the Bush

A South African will not deny the fact that a braai will take preference over any meal whether it’s breakfast, lunch or supper. A braai is a wood fire that is fed for several hours and then allowed to burn down. Once the red hot coals are all that’s left, the meat and vegetables are put onto an open flame. And yes, despite the South African love of meat, whether its steak, chicken, chops or wors (sausage) – vegetables are always welcome.At the uMkhuze volunteer project, Cole will not allow volunteers to leave without being exposed to this popular meal of the Afrikaans culture. The word ‘braai’ originates from the Afrikaans term ‘braaivleis’ which translates as ‘barbeque meat’. However the term ‘braai’ on its own becomes a verb and it’s not just about the eating, but also about bringing people together to bond under the stars whilst you eagerly await your meal.While the days can be long and tiring, nightly meals while volunteering with Wildlife ACT in South Africa are always a highlight, especially when eating with a big group of friends under the stars. As an Australian, I am no stranger to barbeques; however braais are a little bit different; a little more excitingRecently both uMkhuze north and south wildlife volunteers had a braai together, the first I had ever experienced.While you light the fire and wait for the coals to heat up is the perfect time to share stories with your friends and swap memories of the animals you’ve seen.Once the coals are hot, the main can be cooked on a grate over the coals. Most times, the main is sausage (either beef or venison) or chicken, however these can be substituted for any type of main you would like, including vegetable kebab sticks (with eggplant, peppers etc) meat alternatives, or even beans and stews cooked in pots over the coals.

meat on the braai

In the vegetable line, butternut squash can be cut in half and one can add in any spices of their choice along with a hint of butter. This is then wrapped in foil and ready to simmer. Another popular choice is gem squash. Again cutting these in half, add sweet corn in the middle with a layer of cheese over the corn. Then rap this in foil and put it over an open flame. Lastly, potatoes cannot be left out of a braai. Cut the potatoes into quarters, apply butter and cayenne pepper. Once wrapped in foil, these will also go over the open flame.This meal is rounded off perfectly with some bread rolls (preferably garlic rolls that can also be put onto the grid over the coals), something yummy to drink (whatever you fancy), and some good old tomato sauce.

For a simple braai to be fun and festive, all one needs is:
  • A fire
  • A selection of meat
  • Vegetables
  • Friends
  • A fabulous night sky

The atmosphere and warmth created by the fire and different cultures made the night amazing, and even more amazing were the visible stars in the sky, which made us all appreciate our time in Zululand. While the food was the centre of the night, it was the whole atmosphere that made it memorable and special - truly a dinner to remember.