I am a Wine & Spirits writer from Kenya and the Western Cape is the epicentre of wine production in the continent so it isn’t any wonder that I am always finding myself in that part of the world.
In my itinerary, I had seen that on the first day we would be having a South African Braai. In my head, I thought of a barbeque but I was pleasantly surprised by what was waiting for us. This has to be the best and warmest welcome for 12 wine & food writers from all parts of the globe.
An hour after leaving Cape Town International Airport, I was off to Asara Wine Estate and I could not contain my excitement. My heart aches for Cape Town. It is like my second home. Ever since I set foot in this vibrant city in 2015, I keep returning.
After a quick shower and a change of clothes, I left my hotel room in the wine estate and I was directed uphill in the Winelands. I could see the rest of the group walking along the winding paths between the wine farms. I braced myself for a 5-minute walk. I had my camera and I was busy capturing the magical sunsets, excited to be in such a beautiful place.
On the way, I got some gin cocktails to refresh me from the walk and then I joined the rest of the people who were here for the braai.
When I go back to deciphering where this tradition came from, I find out that South Africans have a history of using open fires to cook their food just like many communities in Africa and in the world. I also realized that a braai is more than a barbeque.
One of the things that stood out to me was the variety of foods, particularly meat. I really love meat and there were so many types and cuts all cooked in their own way. There was Shisha Nyama which is roasted meat. I am taking cuts of meat on open fires, boerewors and juicy chops. There was also seafood, chicken and pork. When it comes to the sides, there was bread, sweet potatoes and potatoes. Another thing that stood out was the maize meal which they call pap. In Kenya, we call it ugali. It is made in different consistencies.
The wine was in plenty.
I realised that this was not a one-man show. People were helping out. One man was making the pap, others were checking on the skewers and the rest others were serving the wine. I loved how coordinated this was.
We were with a team from Wines of South Africa, Asara Wine Estate and the 12 wine writers. This was a great welcome for a week of wine tasting. There were seats arranged in a circle around a big fire but no one was sitting down. People were getting to know each other and people had wine, beer or water on their hands. I loved this technique of welcoming people. One more turn on the boerewors and they would be ready.
We learned that South Africans can braai anywhere at any time. They also look for a place like a backyard, field or in any open space. They are innovative and they find ways to make it work.
One thing that is common in all the braais is the practice of sitting around a fire and talking while eating and drinking. There is always alot of food and friends are invited. If you happen to pass by, there will always be a plate of food for you.
I loved the “good vibes” and the welcoming spirit. I felt like I was part of a family even if for a time.
My plate was overflowing. I put a little bit of everything. I had skewers, corn, sweet potatoes and lots of meat. I had just come from a flight and was starving. When it got dark, we got little flashlights to put on our heads. We also had soft scarves on the seats. We ate so much, sang, laughed and drank wine. When people could not eat any more, we had some hot chocolate and tractors ferried us back to the hotel.
If you get an opportunity to braai, say yes. You are welcome.
Have you tried Braai? How was your experience? Tell us down below.
Authored by @jeanwandimi
Photography by @jeanwandimi