The Art of the Braai

I was worried. It seemed irresponsible, something I avoid at most costs; unless it involves frivolity and a measure of drunkenness. I do sometimes make exceptions then.

But not now. Not when Mrs Shoes is juggling Anglicanism and culinary delights, cooking up a storm for Easter Sunday lunch after managing Saint Martha’s church choir and the liturgy. The eulogy? I dunno, they use big words and the men wear frocks and the queen is the head of the church. It’s all a bit above one of the low church. Us Methylated Spirits don’t have archbishops, though we love Tutu now that we have stopped hating him.

While we’re talking about burnt offerings, I must clarify that I’m really pagan, the fun movement that brought us fire, dancing, braais and Mother Earth – as opposed to a vengeful old bearded fella. I was just using Methodism as an example of no dresses, no pointy hats.

But it was the Jewish aspect of Easter I was worried about. He hadn’t even started the fire and the clock was ticking. Mrs Shoes had put together 47 ingredients and baked them to perfection and was starting to deliver them to the table. And that was just one dish – there were many others. And still the meat was red and cold and no fire. And we’re not talking about slap tjops here, this was a serious section of a lamb that had once roamed the Karoo vlaktes.

No way I was going to mention anything or show panic or concern. I was raised on influenced by Mad Magazine and Alfred E Newman’s “What? Me Worry?” so laid-back I had to be. What? Not only did we get Mad Magazine in the picturesque Eastern Free State highlands, we got the wicked Sunday Times on Sunday and the kommunistiese The Star. OK, the Star arrived one day late by truck from Jo’burg, but hey! it was still twenty years ahead of the Volksblad which arrived on the very date that was printed on the front page by truck from Bloemfontein. I once got my picture in Die Volksblad, but never in The Star. Don’t draw conclusions.

I digress. I was still worried. Brauer had not yet started to cook the meat. He hadn’t even lit the fire. Oh, hang on, he had: I just hadn’t noticed.

Now he made a caldera in the coals like a volcano and started to drive a long stainless steel arrow through the heart of the poor Karoo beast.

Where all the work was being done the dishes kept arriving; and people – Sid, Jenni and me, the guests – were seated and napkins were tucked into collars. I foresaw a vegetarian meal at the Brauers, a first.

But blow me down, just as the last dish arrived steaming from the kitchen the Brauer strolled in, pulled the stainless steel arrow out of the heart of the beast and started slicing, casually asking, ‘Would you like some pink, or some medium, or some of the rich dark brown roasted to perfection pieces?’

Windgat. I think he’s done this before.

~~oo0oo~~

braais – burnt offerings; mysterious ritual; seems pointless since electricity was invented, but people persist, you know how people are

slap tjops – thin little slices of a sheep; it would hardly notice

vlaktes – plains; miles of very little

kommunistiese – truth-speaking; not Nationalist propaganda;

windgat – accomplished braaier; barbeque-er of note

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