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The word braaivleis (Afrikaans pronunciation: [ˈbrɑe.flæɪs], English: /ˈbraɪflaɪs/) is Afrikaans for "roasted meat."

The word braai (plural braais) is Afrikaans for "barbecue" or "roast" and is a social custom in Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Zimbabwe and Zambia. It originated with the Afrikaner people,[1] but has since been adopted by South Africans of many ethnic backgrounds. The word vleis is Afrikaans for "meat".

The word has been adopted by English-speaking South Africans and can be regarded as another word for barbecue, in that it serves as a verb when describing how food is cooked and a noun when describing the cooking equipment, such as a grill.[1] The traditions around a braai can be considerably different from a barbecue, however, even if the method of food preparation is very similar.

While wood formerly was the most widely-used braai fuel, in modern times the use of charcoal has increased due to its convenience, as with barbecues elsewhere in the world. There has however been a renewed interest in the use of wood after the South African government started with its invasive plant species removal program. An important distinction between a braai and a barbecue is that it's fairly uncommon for a braai to use gas rather than an open flame.


The "Bring and Braai"

and pork in a concrete braai structure.]]

Similar to a potluck party, this is a grand social event (but still casual and laid-back) where family and friends converge on a picnic spot or someone's home (normally the garden or verandah) with their own meat, salad, or side dish in hand. Meats are the star of the South African braai. They typically include boerewors, sosaties, kebabs, marinated chicken, pork and lamb chops, steaks, sausages of different flavors and thickness, and possibly even a rack or two of spareribs. Fish and Rock Lobster commonly (and incorrectly) called "crayfish" or kreef in Afrikaans, are also popular in coastal areas.

The other main part of the meal is pap (pronounced /pɑːp/, meaning porridge), actually a thickened porridge, or the krummelpap ("crumb porridge"), traditionally eaten with the meat. Made from finely ground corn/maize (similar to polenta), it is a staple of local African communities and may be eaten with a tomato and onion sauce,monkeygland sauce or the more spicy chakalaka at a braai alternativly Braaibrood is made.

Sometimes this activity is also known as a "dop 'n chop" (dop being Afrikaans slang for an alcoholic drink, literally meaning "cap" or "bottle top") when more drinking than eating is done.

Social norms

A braai is a social occasion that has specific traditions and social norms. In black and white South African culture, women rarely braai (cook) meat at a social gathering, as this is normally the preserve of men. The men gather round the braai or braaistand (the fire or grill) outdoors and cook the food, while women prepare the pap, salads, desserts, and vegetables for the meal in the kitchen. The meal is subsequently eaten outside by the fire/braai, since the activity is normally engaged in during the long summer months. The braaing (cooking) of the meat is not the prerogative of all the men attending, as one person would normally be in charge. He will attend to the fire, check that the coals are ready, and braai (cook) the meat. Other men may assist but generally only partake in fireside conversation. This is very similar to how Australian backyard barbecues run. In South Africa, the person in charge is known as the braaier (chef), and if his skills are recognised, could be called upon to attend to the braai at other occasions as well.

"Braaivleis" in Popular Culture

General Motors South Africa used the term in the 1970s in its localized jingle "Braaivleis, rugby, sunny skies, and Chevrolet" to advertise their cars in South Africa — rather different from "baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet" in the US.[2]

  • Announcer: "Hey, South Africa, what's your favourite food?"
  • Crowd: "Braaivleis!"
  • Announcer: "Sport?"
  • Crowd: "Rugby!"
  • Announcer: "Weather?"
  • Crowd: "Sunshine!"
  • Announcer: "Car?"
  • Crowd: "Chevrolet!"
  • Announcer: "All together?"
  • Crowd (singing): "Braaivleis, rugby, sunny skies and Chevrolet! Braaivleis, rugby, sunny skies and Chevrolet! They go together, in the good old RSA. Braaivleis, rugby, sunny skies and Chevrolet!"

National Braai Day

Braai Day is an active celebration of South Africa's rich cultural heritage and its unique national pastime, the braai. It aims to unite all South Africans by encouraging them to partake in a fun and tangible activity shared by all demographic groups, religious denominations and body types. [1]

Braai Day is celebrated annually by South Africans across the world on 24 September (South Africa's Heritage Day). The event was initiated by the Mzansi Braai Institute in South Africa in 2005 and has since 2007 been promoted under the Braai4Heritage banner, a non-profit initiative. [3] On September 5, 2007, Emeritus Archbishop Desmond Tutu was appointment as patron of Braai4Heritage and the initiative also received the endorsement of South Africa's National Heritage Council (NHC) the same year. [2]

The 2008 campaign poster shows a perfectly cooked T-bone steak in the shape of the African continent. At the tip of the "continent" where South Africa is situated the catch phrase "Do it for your country" is written.


External links

See also



Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

WOTD - 2 July 2008    



Wikipedia has an article on:



From braaivleis (grilled meat), from Afrikaans braai (to grill), from Dutch braden (roast).





braai (plural braais)

  1. (South African) A barbecue, the Afrikaans word for grill.
  2. (South African) An open outdoor grill built specifically for the purpose of braaing.
  3. (South African) A social meeting, including the braaing of meat.
    Come over to our place for a braai.


to braai

Third person singular

Simple past

Past participle

Present participle
braaing or braaiing

to braai (third-person singular simple present braais, present participle braaing or braaiing, simple past and past participle braaied)

  1. (South African) To grill meat over an open flame.

Derived terms




braai (plural braaie)

  1. A barbecue
  2. An open outdoor grill built specifically for the purpose of braaing
  3. A social meeting, including the braaing of meat
    Ek hou van braai.


braai (past participle gebraai)

  1. To grill meat over an open flame
    Ek kan nie braai nie.


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