Sep 9, 2012 - Food, General    3 Comments

Barber shops, butchers and braais

Doing shift work is tiring, with nights and weekends taken up traipsing around wards tending to the sick. However, one of the positives is that you really appreciate a weekend off when it comes around.

Last weekend was busy for me, with a 36-hour shift from Saturday morning to Sunday night. This weekend was also busy, but in a different way.

Having been in Zambia for exactly one month, we thought it would be fitting to celebrate with a braai. Braai (rhymes with fry) is Afrikaans for barbeque, but the term is used across many Southern African countries. The concept is much the same as a traditional barbeque, a social gathering in the garden with drinks and plenty of meat. However, it differs from the UK here in that you don’t need to keep checking the weather forecast wondering whether to prepare an indoor ‘plan-B’, and the only reason you might need an umbrella is to shelter from the burning sun.

When hosting any event or party, there are things you need to do to prepare. Throughout the week, I noticed that Will had been wearing his baseball cap a lot. This meant that on Saturday morning, it was time to use the skills imparted by by Tony the barber. Will spent his morning at Nat’s Barber Salon, Katete. It went surprisingly well for my first solo attempt!

The rest of Saturday was spent shopping for food for the braai. We visited the market in Chipata to pick up a few things, but didn’t feel quite ready to buy our meat from the local butcher, opting for packaged meat from the supermarket instead.

Following the true Braai etiquette, I stuck to my kitchen duties with the other womenfolk (making the homemade burgers, marinating the chicken, slicing rolls, preparing the salad…) and left the men to cook the meat around the fire.

We all ate under the shade of our mango tree. We stayed out drinking and chatting all afternoon and as the sun lowered in the sky, we allowed our lunchtime gathering to carry on into an African sundowner.

Will in front of the braai


  • Delightful Nat. Wish we were able to bring a dish and join you.

    No one is really sure where the term barbecue originated. The conventional wisdom is that the Spanish, upon landing in the Caribbean, used the word barbacoa to refer to the natives’ method of slow-cooking meat over a wooden platform. By the 19th century, the culinary technique was well established in the American South, and because pigs were prevalent in the region, pork became the primary meat at barbecues.

  • Hi Dr Nat and many thanks for your excellent at St Francis when Di was in need of it.

    Landed back in UK 9th to sunshine and warmth; couldn’t believe it! As we travelled north on the train we also planned a braai to invite friends we’d not seen for five weeks and tell them so much about Africa they’d be calling for a truce! Unfortunately as we moved north the sun went south and the braai plans fell to pieces. Yes, back to good old UK and the need to make risky plans for such things no more than an hour ahead.

    Don’t worry too much about the butchers but beef tartar and carpaccio should be off the menu! Seared well on a good hot braai and you’ll be fine.
    Thanks again and have great fun between the hard work.
    Di & Ian

  • I’ve been following your and Will’s adventures with interest, Natalie…and it has come as quite a surprise to learn that our national heritage iconic term of “braai” is even used to describe in Zambia what it describes here 🙂