The braai is sacrosanct to outdoor, meat-loving South Africans. It’s one tradition unaffected by political expediency. And there’s no emblem to be targeted by selfish, irrational and ridiculous ratios. Braaing is a social phenomenon enjoyed by all colours and creeds. Unblemished.
There’s nothing more enjoyable than lighting a fire and, with tongs in one hand, cold drink in the other, moving the vleisies around until satisfactory to all tastes standing around – medium, medium-rare, rare, or dood soos ’n mossie. Unlike conventional cooking indoors at a stove and no quasi cooks, braaing is a collective operation with input from all and sundry.
“Hey, broer, do you think you have enough coals?” “I reckon the boerewors is done, don’t you think?” “Make mine a little deader – I still see blood.” “I’d say, too much flames for the steak.”
And so it goes, acceptable and expected repartee around the fires. A lekker session of banter and bonhomie. And certainly not for the unsociable.
But you know all this, so why belabour the subject? Here’s why.
We were invited to a braai with the instruction we bring nothing. Not even a salad. Great.
Couldn’t wait. But wait we did.
On arrival, the host family were all occupied. Indoors, for starters. Each staring at screens: iPhones, laptops and cells. Any amount of coaxing, like hello, here we are, fell on deaf ears. This lasts until I audibly suggest to my Heidi that I’m going home to fetch my laptop.
This announcement was greeted with half-hearted ha-has, the cyber users obviously irritated by my rude interruption.
From then on, the occasion turned into a proper braai, but I couldn’t help mulling over the way it started with folk glued to their screens. Instead of socialising face-to-face around a fire, rather surfing Facebook to meet bloodless people. Rather tweeting than conversing while chewing on a chop.
A sad day if ever the conventional braai loses its appeal, making way for an introverted species preferring the cold company of cyber characters.
Imagine braai fires surrounded by folk with cellphones in hand. No repartee. The tapping on keyboards, crackling embers and fat over the screens, the only evidence of a braai having taken place.