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Norman Peires loves to braai: Barbecues from around the world

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News that people in the UK and Ireland should eat less meat doesn’t sit well with Norman Peires.

The South African entrepreneur and businessman moved to the UK before the apartheid fell, but he brought with him a much-loved cultural pastime – braai.

Meaning ‘roasted meat’ in Afrikaans, braai is a popular tradition in South African, but it’s about more than just barbecued meat.

Braai also symbolises family and friends, as the main point of a braai is to spend time with your loved ones.

With barbecue weather (hopefully) on its way to Northern Ireland soon, perhaps a backyard braai could be on the cards.

As one of the solutions to the global food crisis, the developing world is urged to eat less meat. Hopefully this will help to ease the crisis and provide greater food security.

So, rather than eating meat every day, try and incorporate more vegetarian meals into your diet and save the barbecue for an organised occasion with all of your friends and family.

Perhaps the weekly Sunday barbecue could become a common thing. But, not all barbecues are the same and every country has a different style with a variety of meats, flavours and cooking apparatuses being used. So, come Sunday, which type of barbecue will you be hosting?

South African

If you choose to take a leaf out of Norman Peires’s life and hold a braai in your back garden, then you’re going to have to understand a few things. At a braai, it’s common for guests to bring their own meat, or a salad or side dish for everyone to share. However, the cooking is usually reserved to one person and takes place over a bed of hot, smouldering coals.


It’s usually assumed that the most common meat tossed on an Australian ‘barbie’ is shrimp. But it’s actually more common for sausages, steak and marinated chickens wings to appear on the grill. It’s also extremely common, particularly at school or community fundraisers, to cook up sausages and onion and serve on white bread with tomato sauce – referred to as a ‘sausage sizzle’.   


Deep in southern America, pit barbecues are the variety of choice. Basically, this means cooking the meat for long periods of time at low temperatures over a wood fire. You’re likely to see pork on the menu, along with delicious ribs marinated in thick, sweet sauces, and due to the style of cooking the meat will be infused with a distinctive smoky flavour.


If you’re hosting an Argentinian barbecue, you’ll be putting on an asado. This means setting up a fire pit, sitting a large, metal cross above it before laying your meat across it and letting it cook for hours on end. Argentinians often cook a whole carcass this way, which feeds everyone at the gathering. Unlike the American variety, the meat for the asado is only salted, not marinated, and it is usually accompanied by a grilled potatoes, corn, onion and eggplant.


At a Japanese barbecue you’ll find yourself eating plenty of vegetables and a whole lot of seafood. Once put onto skewers, the food is coated in soy sauce or a similar variety of soy-based sauce, and then grilled over hot coals. Yakitori is another Japanese barbecue speciality where chicken is put on the skewer instead and after being cooked, it served with salt and lemon juice.

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