Monday, March 05, 2007

braaivleis

As a child, I hated braaivleis and everything associated with it in our culture.

I hated the segregation of the men and women. I wanted to be with the women in the kitchen, making food, chatting. But it was expected of me to be with the men outside, eyes teary from the smoke, talking rugby, being macho.

I hated the general jolliness that permeated everyone. I was a severely depressed little boy and I hated people being happy, joking, laughing around me. Come to think of it, I mostly still do. Many times braais were usually held on Sunday, the day that the weekend ended, made it a terrible thing that people could be having fun. Mondays were terrible days, days to be mourned in advance, because it was the day that I had to go back to school to face another meaningless week, being tortured by bullies and teachers.

I hated the barbaric nature of cooking food over flames like neanderthals. I felt that we were far enough down the evolutionary track to completely abandon cooking outdoors. What was electricity for?

I hated the fact that almost every social gathering was a braai. If someone had a birthday party, a wedding reception, a year end function, a farewell party, a family reunion - all of these were always a braai. Sometimes even a bring-en-braai, how pathetic.

I hated the smoky taste of the meat because everything hateful about braaing was concentrated into that charred piece of meat on my plate. How I sometimes struggled to swallow it!

After my father died, it fell to me to braai every so often. I hated it even more then, because it was another responsibility of his I had to take over on top of all the other responsibilities he left me with.

Not long after The One moved in with me, we decided one weekend to have a braai, just the two of us. He disliked braaing more or less as much as I did. I still cannot work out why we decided to do it in the first place.

Being in complete control, alone with only my beloved at my side, braaing wasn't such a bad thing at all. The one or two beers we had made Monday seem further away, less scary. We were free to do as we pleased. The smokiness of the meat, not charred but still juicy, tasted so much better than I could remember.

Braaing has come to symbolise love and freedom to me now. I still don't like to braai as a social exercise. It is more intimate to me than that: something I can only enjoy with The One.

Written by I
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