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Jan Braai Makes a Call to Arms at the Launch of His Third Cookbook, The Democratic Republic of Braai

Jan Braai

The Democratic Republic of BraaiDie Demokratiese Republiek van BraaiJan Braai’s mission statement is simple: It is your democratic right to gather with friends and family around braai fires throughout the country and celebrate with a meal cooked over the coals of a real wood fire.

This is the message he advocates with his third Bookstorm title, The Democratic Republic of Braai, published in Afrikaans by NB Publishers as Die Demokratiese Republiek van Braai. At the recent launch, held at the Devils Peak Brewing Company Taproom in Woodstock, Jan explained the heart and soul of his braai campaign and shared some of the core principles of his latest book.

“By the third book you start to get courage, maybe even a bit of Dutch courage, and you start to take creative license, and that is one of the reasons why I think this book is so great, because I really actually just wrote it exactly as I felt I should write it,” the man behind the national braai campaign told his guests.

Jan BraaiJan went on to say: “Jon Stewart – let’s call him the philosopher Jon Stewart, although some people think he is a comedian – recently made his retirement speech, and he spoke at length about cutting the bullshit out of the world and out of life. This, for me, is also very relevant to the books that I try and write, that I hope should appeal to normal people, normal South Africans who like to braai but maybe want to go beyond boerewors rolls, steak and chops every Saturday. I am trying my best, when I do these recipes, to cut the bullshit.”

There is no saffron in Jan’s curry, because he really does not think “a normal person should buy saffron”. The same goes for lemon grass and other fancy ingredients – if you can’t find it in the platteland, it’s not an ingredient in this new Jan Braai cookbook. Except of course for bokkoms from the West Coast, which he recommends instead of anchovies imported from Europe.

In the second book Jan and his father created a surprising recipe: Malva Pudding in a Potjie. With this book they asked themselves, “If we could do that, why can’t we make a carrot cake as well?”. Jan took the recipe one step further, putting the icing on the side and allowing each person to decide how much sweetness they want to add to their dessert, just like you do when you have a cup of tea in the morning. The success of the carrot cake led to the development of a cheesecake recipe, which is just another one of the innovative recipes that can be found in The Democratic Republic of Braai.

Food from the The Democratic Republic of Braai

“In terms of the book I just want to leave you with a final thought, and that is that life is too short to peel potatoes, I feel very strongly about that. Seriously,” Jan told the jolly crowd. The second part of the launch was dedicated to the thing that lies closest to his heart: National Braai Day.

“Our aim is very simple. We are living in the greatest country in the world and we want to create a national day of celebration in South Africa. National Braai Day is now 10 years old. Our call to arms on all South Africans is very simple – we are saying, ‘Unite around a fire. Share our heritage. Wave our flag’. We are not expecting that you do that solely on 24 September, which is National Heritage Day, but what we are saying is that the one heritage that everybody has in common is to braai, to sit around a fire”.

Jan shared that the single thing he most hopes to achieve in life, apart from establishing National Braai Day, is to get South Africans to wave their flag proudly, like the Americans and so many other nationalities do theirs. “We have the most beautiful flag in the world, we should be more proud of it,” he said. Eventually Jan hopes to create a St Patrick’s Day effect on Braai Day, with people around the world celebrating our South African heritage, waving our flag.

The route and programme for the 2015 National Braai Tour (12 to 19 September) were also revealed during the launch of The Democratic Republic of Braai (see below), during which participants will cook only from Jan’s latest book. Guests also got to taste samples of some of the recipes in the book, accompanied by a sneak preview and taste of the new Jan Braai Lager, created with the Devil’s Peak Brewery, and the new Jan Braai wine range, an easy-drinking braai wine created with help from Alvi’s Drift Wine. Both the beer and wine ranges will be launched later this year.

What are you waiting for? Listen to the presiding president of The Democratic Republic of Braai and BRAAI!

National Braai Tour Map


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Helené Prinsloo (@helenayp) tweeted live from the launch:



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