Jan Braai Road Trip braais with Pilgrim’s locals

Frieda Paton

Jan Braai, his friends and colleagues made a turn in Pilgrim’s Rest on August 13.  This was part of the month-long Jan Braai Road Trip, visiting towns throughout South Africa.  The filmed braaing for the TV slot at The Vine Restaurant had started earlier than I had been told, but Jan Braai assured me that I had not missed the real action and then proceeded to turn the interview on its head.

“The burning fires and South Africans braaing – that is the real action,” said Jan Braai, pointing to the men around the fire.  He explained that the purpose of the road trip wasn’t to film a TV program every day, but to visit towns around the country to braai and chill with the locals.  He wants to encourage all 50 million South Africans to braai on September 24 which, besides being Heritage Day, has also become National Braai Day.

Prompted by some of the locals, I asked Jan Braai if he wasn’t tired of braaing yet. “How can one ever get tired of braaing when it’s such fun to braai with fellow South Africans and there are so many yummy things to braai? You have to eat every day so you might as well eat “lekker”.

While we were sitting close to the fire, locals were braaing some of their favourites and heaped plates of tastings were being passed around.  Cooling off on the crew’s “proe-bord” was a variety of meats – boerewors, steak, mutton chops and ribs. I joined in the tasting of an offering of eland-sausage with jalapeno peppers, fresh off the fire.

This was when Jan turned the interview on its head by asking me what my favourite meat was for braaing.  I chose mutton and then had to decide between the options of a mutton curry potjie, a slow-cooked soft and juicy rib, a mutton chop or a leg of mutton sosatie. After some thought my choice of sosatie prompted Jan to share a favourite recipe.  Fry onions, garlic and curry powder in olive oil, add vinegar, some apricot jam and bay leaves.  Allow to cool, add the mutton cut into blocks, and refrigerate for two to three days, turning daily, before stringing the meat onto skewers.

This was followed by further questions – bread or pap, sheba or butter, fillet or rump steak – all of which made me realise that I had never really closely analysed my braai food preferences.

Before the evening’s braai activity, Jan Braai and his crew had also visited and filmed the main street in Pilgrim’s Rest and the diggings museum, both of which he said were really lovely and in a great condition.  One of the crew members mentioned that he had been surprised at how charming the village was considering all the negative comments he had been reading on social media.

You can follow the rest of the team’s road trip through the country on the Jan Braai Facebook page and be sure to light those braai fires on September 24!

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