Monday, 24 September 2012

National Heritage Day...or, Let's Braai!

Today is 24 September, National Heritage Day in South Africa, a newish public holiday declared to celebrate our national heritage.

Which might be like trying to find the chameleon on the Smartie Box, as not only do we have 11 official languages, we have more than that number of different cultural groups in this country.  So that's not including the Khoi, San, Indian, Chinese, Italian, Portuguese, German, Greek, Jewish and how many other large communities.  Plus the 'coloured' community that is e.g. not perceived Afrikaans by some, or some of themselves, but ís by other.  And the fact that Afrikaans and English (white) South Africans sometimes differ more than the (white) Afrikaans and (non-white) Zulu South African.

(Now, to humor yourself, and get an idea of our South African sense of  humour, get your hands on The Racist's Guide to the People of South Africa by Simon Kilpatrick.  It is not what it sounds like, and is an hilariously funny GENERALISED look at the people in my part of the world.  We do laugh at ourselves :-)

So, my heritage - what would that be?  Given the grandparents' surnames, I'd be 50% Dutch (with some Scottish way back), 25% German, 25% French Huguenot. Throw in some mixes and matches along the almost 3 centuries some of them had been here, and I'm a toroughbred mix. My husband has more German, I think 50% there, and some English and quite recent Scottish as well.   

And little remain of these original cultures.

So what do all of us have in common here?

We like to throw a piece of meat over the coals.  We BRAAI.

Braaiing away!

("Barbie" is Australian over a gas fire.  "Barbeque" is a hamburger pattie or pale pork sausage up north) 
We  like to make a fire with wood or charcoal, and let it sizzle.

And so enters clever "Jan Braai" (in real life Jan Scannell) who decided that we, the people, need something like the Irish Paddy Day, the Dutch Queens Day, US Thanksgiving, Australia Day - something that is truly OURS...and he declares National Heritage also "Braai Day".  That is the one day that most South Africans can do the one thing that most of us truly embraces and have in common: to have a braai.  Luckily for him, the Arch immediately embraces the idea, giving it more clout, and it has been growing ever since.  

Emiritus Archbishop Tutu and Jan Braai
(image from

So today, we'll have a braai.  Some lamb chops marinated with balsamic vinegar and rosemary, venison sausage maybe, a nice garlic-and-cheesy loaf, or tomato-cheese-onion-apricot jam sandwhiches, or maybe some putu pap with sheba.  There will be some form of salad to make up for vitamins, a beer and/or rosé to wash it all down with, and we'll end with a great coffee and maybe melktert.  (Ooh, now that is something to behold...we got it from the Dutch, spiced up by the Malay, similar to Portuguese custard tart and also French custard tart - we just add cinnamon.  I've made it with star aniseed, cardemom, lavender, rooibos...njam!)

Melktert - I could eat one by myself

Have a look at Jan Braai's Facebook Page and a listen to this great South African song, while we light the fires!

1 comment:

Lynne said...

What a diverse country you live in! I loved the music video, my toes were tapping. There is something about throwing meat on a grill that brings everyone together for a good time, no matter where you live. Sounds like a great holiday!