A Conversation for How to Plan a Dinner Party

Barbeques!

Post 1

The Researcher formally known as Dr St Justin

Never underestimate the power of a barbeque! They can be great fun, and it gives you a chance to do the cooking whilst still enjoying yourself! Or you could let people take turns to do the cooking...

Just ask people to bring a few sausages/burgers/steaks/chicken legs or whatever, and bung it on when people get hungry. It always helps to have some of your own food though, in case it runs short... And if you want to do anything special (like a marinade) you'll need to do it in plenty of time.

It's best if you do the dessert too. Vodka jelly always goes down well...

Ooh... almost forgot! BBQ's don't have to be expensive - the disposable ones are really good. We got one of the larger ones, and it lasted for at least three hours - twice as long as it said it would!


Braais

Post 2

Wrinkled Rocker

In South Africa the barbeque is called a "braai" (pr. bry to rhyme with dry). This is not a dinner party - it's a lifestyle!

The best braai is held in the evening in the bush, with weird and wonderful animal noises to amuse your guests and stimulate the conversation. In winter, the temperature is mild (for someone from Europe) and the mozzies don't bother you. Also it's hunting season and the likelyhood of being in the bush in the first place is increased tenfold.

Most important is the wood for the fire - ironwood is the ultimate to burn clean, make no smoke and deliver good hot coals that last for an hour or so. (BEWARE- some wood gives off poisonous smoke !!)
Idealy, the fire is made in the centre of the circle of chairs for all to enjoy. Using a long-handled shovel, the hot coals are gently lifted from the bottom of the fire and placed under a grid of expanded metal or welded mesh. By adding or removing coals, the temperature is adjusted.

With the fire blazing away nicely, liquid refreshment is necesary. South Africans drink LAGER (and wine, brandy, whisky.....) at a braai. As formality is out of place when your feet are drawing pretty patterns in the African sand, drinking from cans is standard practice. The more genteel supply tall, gently tapering glasses for their guests.

An essential first course is a large plate(s) of finger-food. Peanuts, crisps, dried fruit, and the traditional "biltong" dried meat sliced thin. This is placed in a prominent position within easy reach of the guests.

At this stage, the dinner party will traditionally divide into two groups, usually along gender lines. "Gender apartheid" was not declared unconstitutional in 1995 and is still widely practiced. The ladies congregate in the cleaner part of the locality, loudly making salads and discussing what is wrong with the men. The men will congregate near the beer, loudly telling jokes and discussing what is wrong with the rugby team / cricket team as the case may be.

With time, some females become disenchanted and move over to demand a refill from their man and some males will move over to the ladies in order to pick at the olives in the salad. This usually indicates that the cooking stage must begin.

The men cook at a braai. This is not a negotiable matter! Violent bun-throwing and even salad-hurling has resulted from previous attempts to alter this situation. The temperature of the fire is determined by placing the palm of the hand some 100mm (four inches) above the grill and counting in thousands. If one can count to between four and seven thousand before you reach the "Ouch! Dammit" stage when the reflexes kick in to remove your hand, then the cooking may begin.

The essence of a braai is the variety of meat, the cuts thereof and the total fascination of the participants in the process. Even that strange brown chunk of something that has been hiding in the bottom of the freezer since Easter is likely to to be well received at the braai. The best meat is Lamb cut into chops. The variety of lamb raised on the hardy thorn bush of the Karoo is most sought-after, as the meat is ready-spiced! Steak, pork ribs, splayed "flatty"-chickens, ostrich, the many varied types, lengths and thicknesses of sausage - all are acceptable. The adventurous will even brown slices of crocodile (looks like fish, tastes like chicken)for the cunlinary delight of the assebly.

Essential side dishes (apart from that BIG bowl of mixed salad - now without many olives) are curried green bean salad, three-bean salad, potato salad, beetroot salad.... Come to think of it, if it's vegetable and a salad, it is most likely to be there.

Without a doubt the abolute must is PAP. (No- not the teat variety!) PAP (pr. somewhere between "pop" and "pup") is a stiff porridge made from corse ground maize. Ghastly if you forgot to put salt into the water before you cooked it, to those who come from the North of SA it is a delicacy - if you come from the South, it is something that you wouldn't feed you dog. This is accompanied by a thick rich gravy made from green and red peppers, onions and tomatoes, fruit chutney and Worchester sauce.

(Pardon me, but my mouth is watering to such an extent, I must take a break and EAT SOMETHING !!! If anyone is still interested, I WILL RETURN)




Braais

Post 3

Sam

God, I was transported away for a minute there! Sounds great. smiley - smiley


Braais - continued

Post 4

Wrinkled Rocker

When the meat is on the grill, there will always be great debate and discussion regarding the correct method to braai meat. Some prefer to keep busy by constantly turning over every piece of meat every thirty seconds or so, thereby creating the illusion that they are sweating it out over the stove, hoping for some romantic reward from their partner later in the evening. These persons will inevitably supply their own long handled braai-tongs, as continuous domination of communal cooking implements is likely to earn you a lager poured down the back of your neck.

I belong to the school that maintains that meat is prepared for grilling by the application of a thin coating of olive oil to both sides, the correct placement on the grill depending on the type of meat and the thickness thereof. Correctly placed, the meat will sear, trapping the juices inside. Turn over once to sear the other side AND LEAVE IT ALONE. When the juices start appearing on the top of the meat, turn it over again and wait for the juices to start appearing on the other side. Through selection of varied thicknesses of meat to match the diner tastes, this method permits the deliver of meat cooked anything from well done to rare, all cooked on the same fire in the same time (Thick = rare and thin = well-done).

(NOTE: Being distracted too long at the wrong moment by scantily clad quests or filling your/your partner’s drink can lead to embarrassing one-side-blackened meat and resultant instant conversion to “the other” school of meat-turning. As a result, two-turn cooks will always endeavour to have someone else fetch the next can. (The problem of scantily-clad ladies is as yet unresolved – any suggestions?)

Now that everyone is presented with magnificent spread, the real business of eating can commence. The ladies will proudly present their salads-and-stuff, and the men will endeavour to pile your plate even higher with “just-another-little-piece” of whatever they have cooked. The food is so good that conversation will inevitably totally cease, being replaced by a varied series of eating noises, appreciative “mmm’s”, “ooooo’s”, and the occasional erudite “Delicious!”. This will continue until the plates are cleaned off, inevitably by mopping up whatever juices are left on the plate using the dry end of a bread roll.

It is now considered polite to say: “Is there any more boerewors (pr. Boo-rah-wars) / rib / pap and sauce?” (or whatever else takes your fancy.) This is the cue to make a second visit to the food table before anyone else grabs the last whatever. Those who wish to create the impression that they are watching their figures will not fill up again, but will pick out one item at a time from the array and eat it in their fingers. Ducking in and out between the other diners will enable you to totally gorge yourself and still be able to say: “I didn’t even have a second helping.”

(NOTE: At this stage of the proceedings, the considerate host / hostess will provide the necessary facilities to wash hands etc. or the unfortunate guests will be forced to lick fingers to get the remnants of the eat-in-your-fingers. The high-tech civilised solution is one or more beautifully appointed and decorated guest bathroom/s. However, these are in short supply in the bush, but a large ceramic / glass / enamelled / plastic bowl together with a jug of warm water laced with the juice of a lemon will suffice very nicely.)

Dessert in Africa is sometimes problematic. Tarts and cake will do well, but ice cream turns to white liquid in five minutes. A jelly (US=Jello) will do better and for a delicious treat, make a jelly using real tropical fruit juice topped with sliced tinned peaches, apricots and fresh halved strawberries. Pour over a sauce made from the juice from the tinned peaches laced with Old Brown sherry and buchu-brandy and happiness is guaranteed. Try Amarula Cream liqueur poured over your apple tart!

(NOTE TO VEGETARIANS: I regret that carnivores predominate in Africa. Vegetables are widely eaten, but usually only as a side dish to something else that used to roam the savannah. We do welcome vegetarian cuisine as a break to the usual fare, but soon degenerate into the higher levels of the food chain. We don’t mind you coming to dinner – after all, it means more meat for us!)

After dessert, coffee is necessary. Best drunk black and strong enough to hold up the spoon, sugar is to taste. Caffeine-junkies such as myself drink refills and caffeine-intolerants drink tea, (Ceylon, herbal or local Rooibos).

Lager, local red wine, the latest fad-drink and old favourites such as whisky may be drunk at any stage during the evening. Most refreshments are consumed cold or at least chilled. Believe me, a rich Bordeaux at room temperature in Africa (about 25C) is terrible! Unlike our European cousins, we may drink a red wine with lobster, white wine with steak, pork or whatever. If you like it, you drink it.

After the meal, conversation may drift in many directions. Sport, sex, sport, practical philosophy, sport, politics and sport are most likely. Lethargy is inevitable as the fire warms your face, the stars twinkle in your eye and the animal noises frighten or intrigue you. Sleep is deep and restful after a braai. If you ate too much pap and gravy too quickly, the heartburn will make sleep fitful and you will wish you were dead before dawn.

Believe me, until you have feasted around a fire one night in the bush in tropical Africa, with the Southern Cross in sight, YOU HAVE NOT LIVED!. Every human on earth has roots in Africa.
Drop out, get out and get here!


Braais - continued

Post 5

Wrinkled Rocker

When the meat is on the grill, there will always be great debate and discussion regarding the correct method to braai meat. Some prefer to keep busy by constantly turning over every piece of meat every thirty seconds or so, thereby creating the illusion that they are sweating it out over the stove, hoping for some romantic reward from their partner later in the evening. These persons will inevitably supply their own long handled braai-tongs, as continuous domination of communal cooking implements is likely to earn you a lager poured down the back of your neck.

I belong to the school that maintains that meat is prepared for grilling by the application of a thin coating of olive oil to both sides, the correct placement on the grill depending on the type of meat and the thickness thereof. Correctly placed, the meat will sear, trapping the juices inside. Turn over once to sear the other side AND LEAVE IT ALONE. When the juices start appearing on the top of the meat, turn it over again and wait for the juices to start appearing on the other side. Through selection of varied thicknesses of meat to match the diner tastes, this method permits the deliver of meat cooked anything from well done to rare, all cooked on the same fire in the same time (Thick = rare and thin = well-done).

(NOTE: Being distracted too long at the wrong moment by scantily clad quests or filling your/your partner's drink can lead to embarrassing one-side-blackened meat and resultant instant conversion to 'the other' school of meat-turning. As a result, two-turn cooks will always endeavour to have someone else fetch the next can. (The problem of scantily-clad ladies is as yet unresolved – any suggestions?)

Now that everyone is presented with magnificent spread, the real business of eating can commence. The ladies will proudly present their salads-and-stuff, and the men will endeavour to pile your plate even higher with 'just-another-little-piece' of whatever they have cooked. The food is so good that conversation will inevitably totally cease, being replaced by a varied series of eating noises, appreciative "mmm's" , "ooooo's", and the occasional erudite "Delicious!". This will continue until the plates are cleaned off, inevitably by mopping up whatever juices are left on the plate using the dry end of a bread roll.

It is now considered polite to say: "Is there any more boerewors (pr. Boo-rah-wars) / rib / pap and sauce?" (or whatever else takes your fancy.) This is the cue to make a second visit to the food table before anyone else grabs the last whatever. Those who wish to create the impression that they are watching their figures will not fill up again, but will pick out one item at a time from the array and eat it in their fingers. Ducking in and out between the other diners will enable you to totally gorge yourself and still be able to say: "I didn’t even have a second helping."

(NOTE: At this stage of the proceedings, the considerate host / hostess will provide the necessary facilities to wash hands etc. or the unfortunate guests will be forced to lick fingers to get the remnants of the eat-in-your-fingers. The high-tech civilised solution is one or more beautifully appointed and decorated guest bathroom/s. However, these are in short supply in the bush, but a large ceramic / glass / enamelled / plastic bowl together with a jug of warm water laced with the juice of a lemon will suffice very nicely.)

Dessert in Africa is sometimes problematic. Tarts and cake will do well, but ice cream turns to white liquid in five minutes. A jelly (US=Jello) will do better and for a delicious treat, make a jelly using real tropical fruit juice topped with sliced tinned peaches, apricots and fresh halved strawberries. Pour over a sauce made from the juice from the tinned peaches laced with Old Brown sherry and buchu-brandy and happiness is guaranteed. Try Amarula Cream liqueur poured over your apple tart!

(NOTE TO VEGETARIANS: I regret that carnivores predominate in Africa. Vegetables are widely eaten, but usually only as a side dish to something else that used to roam the savannah. We do welcome vegetarian cuisine as a break to the usual fare, but soon degenerate into the higher levels of the food chain. We don’t mind you coming to dinner – after all, it means more meat for us!)

After dessert, coffee is necessary. Best drunk black and strong enough to hold up the spoon, sugar is to taste. Caffeine-junkies such as myself drink refills and caffeine-intolerants drink tea, (Ceylon, herbal or local Rooibos).

Lager, local red wine, the latest fad-drink and old favourites such as whisky may be drunk at any stage during the evening. Most refreshments are consumed cold or at least chilled. Believe me, a rich Bordeaux at room temperature in Africa (about 25C) is terrible! Unlike our European cousins, we may drink a red wine with lobster, white wine with steak, pork or whatever. If you like it, you drink it.

After the meal, conversation may drift in many directions. Sport, sex, sport, practical philosophy, sport, politics and sport are most likely. Lethargy is inevitable as the fire warms your face, the stars twinkle in your eye and the animal noises frighten or intrigue you. Sleep is deep and restful after a braai. If you ate too much pap and gravy too quickly, the heartburn will make sleep fitful and you will wish you were dead before dawn.

Believe me, until you have feasted around a fire one night in the bush in tropical Africa, with the Southern Cross in sight, YOU HAVE NOT LIVED!. Every human on earth has roots in Africa.
Drop out, get out and get here!


Braais - continued

Post 6

Wrinkled Rocker

(Sorry for the above - the draft was written in MS WORD and cut and pasted. Can anyone tell me why it garbled apostophe's and inverted ommas???)

When the meat is on the grill, there will always be great debate and discussion regarding the correct method to braai meat. Some prefer to keep busy by constantly turning over every piece of meat every thirty seconds or so, thereby creating the illusion that they are sweating it out over the stove, hoping for some romantic reward from their partner later in the evening. These persons will inevitably supply their own long handled braai-tongs, as continuous domination of communal cooking implements is likely to earn you a lager poured down the back of your neck.

I belong to the school that maintains that meat is prepared for grilling by the application of a thin coating of olive oil to both sides, the correct placement on the grill depending on the type of meat and the thickness thereof. Correctly placed, the meat will sear, trapping the juices inside. Turn over once to sear the other side AND LEAVE IT ALONE. When the juices start appearing on the top of the meat, turn it over again and wait for the juices to start appearing on the other side. Through selection of varied thicknesses of meat to match the diner tastes, this method permits the deliver of meat cooked anything from well done to rare, all cooked on the same fire in the same time (Thick = rare and thin = well-done).

(NOTE: Being distracted too long at the wrong moment by scantily clad quests or filling your/your partner's drink can lead to embarrassing one-side-blackened meat and resultant instant conversion to 'the other' school of meat-turning. As a result, two-turn cooks will always endeavour to have someone else fetch the next can. (The problem of scantily-clad ladies is as yet unresolved. Any suggestions?)

Now that everyone is presented with magnificent spread, the real business of eating can commence. The ladies will proudly present their salads-and-stuff, and the men will endeavour to pile your plate even higher with 'just-another-little-piece' of whatever they have cooked. The food is so good that conversation will inevitably totally cease, being replaced by a varied series of eating noises, appreciative "mmm's" , "ooooo's", and the occasional erudite "Delicious!". This will continue until the plates are cleaned off, inevitably by mopping up whatever juices are left on the plate using the dry end of a bread roll.

It is now considered polite to say: "Is there any more boerewors (pr. Boo-rah-wars) / rib / pap and sauce?" (or whatever else takes your fancy.) This is the cue to make a second visit to the food table before anyone else grabs the last whatever. Those who wish to create the impression that they are watching their figures will not fill up again, but will pick out one item at a time from the array and eat it in their fingers. Ducking in and out between the other diners will enable you to totally gorge yourself and still be able to say: "I didn't even have a second helping."

(NOTE: At this stage of the proceedings, the considerate host / hostess will provide the necessary facilities to wash hands etc. or the unfortunate guests will be forced to lick fingers to get the remnants of the eat-in-your-fingers. The high-tech civilised solution is one or more beautifully appointed and decorated guest bathroom/s. However, these are in short supply in the bush, but a large ceramic / glass / enamelled / plastic bowl together with a jug of warm water laced with the juice of a lemon will suffice very nicely.)

Dessert in Africa is sometimes problematic. Tarts and cake will do well, but ice cream turns to white liquid in five minutes. A jelly (US=Jello) will do better and for a delicious treat, make a jelly using real tropical fruit juice topped with sliced tinned peaches, apricots and fresh halved strawberries. Pour over a sauce made from the juice from the tinned peaches laced with Old Brown sherry and buchu-brandy and happiness is guaranteed. Try Amarula Cream liqueur poured over your apple tart!

(NOTE TO VEGETARIANS: I regret that carnivores predominate in Africa. Vegetables are widely eaten, but usually only as a side dish to something else that used to roam the savannah. We do welcome vegetarian cuisine as a break to the usual fare, but soon degenerate into the higher levels of the food chain. We don't mind you coming to dinner. After all, it means more meat for us!)

After dessert, coffee is necessary. Best drunk black and strong enough to hold up the spoon, sugar is to taste. Caffeine-junkies such as myself drink refills and caffeine-intolerants drink tea, (Ceylon, herbal or local Rooibos).

Lager, local red wine, the latest fad-drink and old favourites such as whisky may be drunk at any stage during the evening. Most refreshments are consumed cold or at least chilled. Believe me, a rich Bordeaux at room temperature in Africa (about 25C) is terrible! Unlike our European cousins, we may drink a red wine with lobster, white wine with steak, pork or whatever. If you like it, you drink it.

After the meal, conversation may drift in many directions. Sport, sex, sport, practical philosophy, sport, politics and sport are most likely. Lethargy is inevitable as the fire warms your face, the stars twinkle in your eye and the animal noises frighten or intrigue you. Sleep is deep and restful after a braai. If you ate too much pap and gravy too quickly, the heartburn will make sleep fitful and you will wish you were dead before dawn.

Believe me, until you have feasted around a fire one night in the bush in tropical Africa, with the Southern Cross in sight, YOU HAVE NOT LIVED!. Every human on earth has roots in Africa.
Drop out, get out and get here!


Braais - continued

Post 7

Wand'rin star

This is absolutely fantastic. I can taste Val Hughes' marinade as I sit here 23 years on. I think you should turn this into a guide entry on its own. Braais in Lesotho,Malawi and RSA bore no relation to Oz ones and were certainly on a different planet to English ones.smiley - star


Braais

Post 8

Wrinkled Rocker

I'd be very pleased to turn this into a guide item.
Anyone care to tell me how?
Anyone care to "moderate"or contibute?


Braais

Post 9

Is mise Duncan

Brai tip: For tenderising chicken, leave it to soak in coca cola overnight. smiley - smiley yummy


Braais

Post 10

Wrinkled Rocker

To tenderise beef, wrap overnight in paw-paw (papaya) skin, flesh side inwards.

To cook ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT steak, lightly rub a tender cut in OLIVE oil and place over FLAMES (other oils will blacken!) until well browned - only 2-5 minutes. Turn over and repeat. Others will not yet have even got their meat in the marinade and you are already eating !!

I cook TOUGH meat on a very low heat. The gravy/juice it cooks in must not bubble but steam is OK. Cook for 12 hours or so - it falls apart if you do it too long.

REALLY YUMMY!


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Barbeques!

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