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Edible Nonfiction: Today's pick

Braai by Veronica Sharpe

We call it a Braai. It's the equivalent to a barbecue. The cost of meat is ridiculous in Zimbabwe and therefore, it's a treat. Family gather in the front yard carrying coolers. All the children are running around sipping on Fanta to stay cool. It's hot, mid-afternoon sun burning. Uncles set their camping chairs in the shade and open beers while mothers stir up coleslaw and mixed salads in the kitchen. 

The smell is mouth-watering, as the steaks and sausages find their way onto the fire. Chicken breasts marinated overnight come out of their sealed Tupperware. The anticipation for the meal rises as people laugh about simple things in life. Nobody talks about work or the economy. Granny is inside with the younger ones, changing nappies and preparing bottles. The mothers are happy to announce engagements and show off growing bellies. Nothing extraordinary but everything is shared with as much affection and adoration for the detail on a crochet tablecloth as for a letter from a child studying abroad.

The meat is cooking and the pots of sadza are ready. As the salads are brought outside, the men dish out for the younger ones first. The kids settle down at the kiddies table and poor tomato sauce galore over every inch of meat.  

The meal takes hours. Some have left while others are arriving. The neighbours pop over and sample the feast.  The empty bottles are piled back into their crates as the sun goes down slowly and the coolness of the evening arrives. Tired children, who are now lying on their mother's laps listen as stories are shared around the fire. Leftovers are scrapped off plates and shared among the dogs. Everyone is satisfied, and content.

Veronica Sharpe is from Gatineau, QC

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