B.O.E.R.I.E. – the official rules & etiquette at a braai

1.   The Braai Master

This position is more important than you might think and is less important than other people might encourage. He is the Mac daddy cream cheese of the braai. The man who holds the glory in times of triumph aswell as the man who must crawl away in shame when he failed his comrades. He must have respect, honour and courage. He must be quick witted, decisive and humble. He must face the rain in a storm and he must brave the smoke in the wind. He must be the BRAAI MASTER.

In a perfect world the Braai Master would be the best person for the job (ie. the guy with the thickest Braai CV), but due to immeasurable elements surrounding the braai[1][1] we need to establish the never-argued and never-questioned rules of electing the Master of the Braai.

With the position comes great accountability seasoned with some rather exclusive perks. There is a fine balance between the two for if the Braai Master abuses his power he will lose all credibility and bring shame to this highly desirable position.


1.1     Electing the Braai Master

1.1.1-   He who is host is automatically Braai Master If the Host is a she, then its her husband/ boyfriend/ ex. If all of these are present then you have bigger problems than to decide who is Braai master. If none of these are present then its the tallest guy. If there are no guys there then by definition it is not a braai and its out of the B.O.E.R.I.E.s jurisdiction.

1.1.2-   If you Braai on neutral territory then he who bank-rolled the braai will be Braai Master.

1.1.3-If the costs where split then its the provider of the Braai tools. If there are no braai tools then you better go buy some or make some from the surrounding jungle in which you are apparently trapped.

1.1.4- If the Braai Tools where provided by the location then it is the most seasoned braaier. The easiest way to determine this is by age, because he who has been around the longest has most probably braaied the most. If by some freak occurrence you are all exactly the same age then its the tallest guy. If you are not in your home country then sit down and shut up and let the locals sort it out. If you are not in your home country, but you are a South African then please provide the locals with the opportunity to learn the art of the braai by telling them to sit down and shut up.

1.1.5 All these rules can be vetoed if all the potential candidates unanimously decide on one shining individual. He must then accept with honour or leave the premises.

Once the Braai Master has been chosen then there must be no ill feelings towards him. It is his basic human right to elected. You will get your chance prove yourself.

The Braai Master must always remember than even though your braai experience is cumulative, you are only as good as your last braai.

He must be aware of all his responsibilities at all times.

1.2    The Braai Masters responsibilities

1.2.1- The Braai Master must light the fire.[2][2]

1.2.2- The Braai Master must decide the all important Meat Sequence[3][3].

1.2.3-    The Braai Master is charge of the Turning of the Meat.

1.2.4-    The Braai Master must maintain good Coal Management[4][4].

1.2.5-   The Braai Master can request (or make) the marinade of his choice. This responsibility also covers braai salt, but as more and more braaiers are cheating and buying their braai salt this only applies to Level 2 braaiers.

1.2.6-   The Braai Master must resolve any unsolved arguments around the braai.

1.2.7-   The Braai Master must remain sober enough to complete the job. Should he by no fault of his own get monkey drunk then the Braai Assistant must guide his actions toward the right decisions. The Braai Assistant must never ever take credit for the braai when his Braai Master is down.

1.2.8-   The Braai Master must never braai alone. If your wife/ girlfriend/ housemate forces you to braai then you must force her to stand with you. If you cannot do this you are expelled. If you are alone at your home you must call a friend. (Do not let good coals go to waste on one person) If you do not have any friends you are expelled. If you are out of town then go to the nearest pub/ bar/ sports field and invite someone to come and braai with you. Tempt them with free beer.

These responsibilities are the cornerstones of the braai. Do not disrepute them by delegating them to the Braai Assistant or to anyone else.

If the Braai Master is truly dedicated then he will have these committed to memory[5][5].

Being Braai Master is not all work, there are some advantages. Being such a self-sacrificing individual and because he is providing all his knowledge and labours to the braai he must be  looked after by his Braai Assistant and sometimes the other members of the braai. These are known as the Perks.

1.3    The Braai Masters Perks


1.3.1      The Braai Master gets to have a Braai Assistant.

1.3.2      -Unless he requests otherwise, the Braai Master must always have a drink in his hand. This can be done by anyone around the braai, but if no-one volunteers then it falls to the Braai Assistant. This perk continues even if the Braai Masters own supply of alcohol has dried up.

1.3.3      The Braai Master is absolved from any cleaning up duty at the end of the braai.[6][6]

1.3.4      Should there be any dispute over location, type of meat, time, guests or protocol then the Braai Master can make the deciding verdict.

1.3.5      The Braai Master can expel a Spectator for rude, lewd or unbecoming behaviour.

Once again it must be stated that the braai is no place for a dictatorship. A good Braai Master sometimes asks the opinion of his spectators even when he doesnt need it. He makes the Braai an interactive experience for all the guys involved. A good Braai Master must be remembered as one with a stern strong rule and well as one with fair judgements.

But unfortunately sometimes some Braai Masters goes too far and must be expelled. Here are the guidelines.

1.4    Automatic Braai Master Expulsion


1.4.1      -If the Braai Master leaves the Braai for any reason except the following: -To go to the bathroom. To quickly catch the score of whatever sporting event is on TV. To quickly dive into the pool to cool off. To answer a overseas phone call on the landline. To go a fetch his secret Marinade from his secret hiding place. To save the world.

1.4.2      If The Braai Master drops more than two pieces of meat in the fire.[7][7]

1.4.3      If the Braai Master burns the meat to a level thats unfit for human consumption.

1.4.4      If he fails to adhere to the responsibilities illustrated by section 1.2

1.4.5      If the Braai master kills the vibe around the braai and everybody goes to the kitchen to watch the ladies make the salad.

2.   The Braai Assistant

Historically speaking this position was involuntary. It was appointed by the Braai Master and the recipient had no choice but to accept. But this was due to hierarchical positions in place outside the Braai. E.g.:

  • Father Son
  • Boss Employee,
  • Chief Slave
  • Brother Younger, weaker, shorter brother.
  • Friend Friend who owes the other friend money.

But in these modern times the Braai Assistant is a great opportunity for young  players to get involved in braai and to learn from their Braai Master. The amount of experience that can be acquired naturally depends on who you are learning from, but even Braai Masters who excel on their own turf take the opportunity to be Braai Assistants when they are playing with the big dogs.

2.1    Electing the Braai assistant

2.1.1-   He can nominate himself and if the Braai Master gives a subtle nod in his direction then the job is his.[8][8]

2.1.2-   The Braai assistant can also be appointed by a General Spectator Consensus[9][9]

2.1.3-   If no-one wants to do it then its time to pull rank and appoint the youngest guy. If he then argues too much he is expelled from the braai.

Hopefully this process will go off without too much hassle. There is nothing worse than to have a Braai Assistant in low spirits. It causes the Braai master to loose his focus and it also destroys the essential vibe around the braai. Lets never forget that we are here to enjoy ourselves.

Spectators never forget a good Braai Assistant. If you do your job well you might be in line for one of the highest honours around the braai which is a 1.1.5.

2.2    The Braai Assistants Responsibilities

2.2.1- Make sure that the Braai is proper condition for the Braai Master to start it. This includes getting the braai in the right location if it is portable. This includes stacking the coals/wood and making sure that there is Blitz in the correct positions.

2.2.2- The Braai Assistant must make sure that the meat is next to the fire when the coals are ready.

2.2.3 – The Braai Assistant gets to place the meat on the coals when the Braai master tells him its time.

2.2.4 The Braai Assistant must make sure that the Braai Master has got a drink at all times.

2.2.5 The Braai Assistant must keep the Braai Master free of opinions[10][10].

2.2.6 The Braai Assistant must ensure that there is a container for the Braai Master to put the meat in when he is finished.

3.   The Spectators


The general mob surrounding the braai is known as the Spectators. They by and large do not do anything except drinking, talking, and spectating. The ideal frame of mind of the spectator should be: I am so lucky to be here next to this braai, let me do everything in my power to make the Braai Master and Assistants working environment as enjoyable as possible. Its as simple as that. Should a spectator see that the Braai Assistants hands are a bit full, he should offer to hold his beer for him. He should laugh at the Braai Masters jokes. He should stay out of the way and be pleasant.

There are some basic rules that do apply to the spectator.

3.1     Spectator Etiquette


3.1.1- Never let your Braai Master and Assistant stand in the smoke[11][11]. If there is not enough space and someone must stand in the smoke then it must fall on the last guy to join the braai.

3.1.2- Once the Meat in on the coals, you do not ash your cigarette or put your stompie out on the coals.

3.1.3- A Spectator must respect the Braai Masters abilities and keep his opinions about the braai to himself.

3.1.4- A Spectator is expected to stay out of harms way[12][12].

3.1.5 If there is an unexpected flame, then you do not extinguish it with your beer without permission.

3.1.6-Should the Braai Assistant get promoted to Braai Master during a 1.4.1 then a Spectator should volunteer for promotion to Braai Assistant until the Braai Master gets back.

3.1.7- Never leave the Braai Master alone at the braai[13][13].

3.1.8- Try to administer your drinking so that you do not pass out before all the braaiing is done. After that it is free game.

3.1.9 Try to bring at least 1 good new joke to the Braai.

3.1.10 Discourage those of the female persuasion from becoming a Spectator[14][14]. There are individuals that in fact show great promise in understanding the intricate dynamics of the braai, they get to stay, but this is decided by a General Spectator Consensus.

3.1.11 -Respect the Braai by behaving in a becoming manner.

4.   General Braai Designations and Proposals

4.1    Braai A Definition


  When two or more guys are cooking meat on open coals or fire with the intention of consuming that meat in the near future, and they are having a good time.

4.1.1- Please note that this definition is more specific than you might initially assume: If theres no meat, then it is a vegetarian Braai aka a Vraai If you cook meat on a stove then you are not braaiing. If there are only women around the braai, then it is not a braai, it is called Survival. If you dont plan to eat the food, then what are you doing. If you are alone, then once again Survival. If you are not having a good time, then you are working and if you are working then you shouldnt be braaiing.

That is braaiing in a nutshell and it should incorporate any situation conceivable to the discerning braaier. All of the above 6 points needs to be adhered to if you want to find yourself braaiing.

4.2    Coal Management


Good Coal Management is a beautiful thing and it really separates the good braaiers from the bad ones. Some schools of thought[15][15] have referred to Coal Management as an art form and that you either have it or you dont. It is the ability to braai allot of meat and never running out of coals. There is nothing worse than having seven chops and three steaks left and no coals to braai them on. Always keep the Braaiable coals Meat to be braaied ratio at about 1,2 :1

4.2.1      Coal Management with Wood

This is really the easier of the two. If you follow these easy steps then you cannot go wrong.           Light a really big fire.           Keep on adding logs at a 10min intervals           Once sufficient coals have formed at the bottom, move the top burning logs to a new location about 30cm away.           This is now your coal factory. Keep feeding it new logs and keep scraping the coals from underneath as you need them.

4.2.2      Coal Management with Charcoal

Charcoal tends to make coals that last, but if you are braaiing in the big leagues it is best to think ahead. Here are your options:           Get two Webers going and transfer the coals as you need then.           Take a break between braais and make new coals.           Keeps adding small amounts of random pieces of charcoal as you braai.[16][16]           Fine-tune your Sequence of the Meat so that each varying temperature of the coal is used to optimum.

At the end of the day there are two types of braaiers in this world. Those who Braai with wood and those who Braai with Webers. This is mostly due to lack of good wood available to the city dwellers. If you from the country then your wood availability is so much higher. Use this opportunity and dont be afraid to experiment with new types of wood. Share your experiences with fellow braaiers. General braai knowledge should not be harboured.

4.3 The Turning of the Meat (TOM)


The Turning of the meat is the rhythm at the heart of the Braai. A good turning session can create a symphony that turns the braai into something beautiful. Gggsstch gggsstch. Have respect for TOM. He can be your best friend or worst enemy.

Here are some simple steps to use TOM to your advantage:

4.3.1 Plan ahead

Have the braai assistant find out if there are any specific needs[17][17]. Then put your meat on the Braai accordingly. The rawer, the later you put it on. Dont put it on with the rest and take it of early. Meat continues to cook when it leaves the braai.

4.3.2 Consider the meat itself.

Meat that have been marinating needs more smoky flavour from the fire. Therefore you turn it less frequently than meat without a marinade. Wors on the other hand is easy. Just continue turning so that you dont burn it until its ready.

4.3.3 Dont bite off more than you can chew

It can happen that the meat is braaiing quicker that you have the ability to turn it. Please try to avoid this. Every piece of meat needs you equal undivided attention. Rather put less on and braai for longer[18][18].TOM have caught many a young braaier with their pants down. This can lead to early Braaier-burnout.

4.3.4 Keep it snappy.

Its always considered good form to give your tongs at least 2 practice snaps before you go for a good TOM session[19][19].Snap, Snap. If you are braaiing with a rooster, you can lightly knock the rooster twice against the braai before turning.

4.3.5 Divide and rotate

The Heat from the coals are not uniform. Constantly keep on rotating the meat so that you can have a homogenous cooking of the meat. Sometimes it is difficult to turn large quantities of Wors. Rather divide it into easy manageable sizes.

4.3.6 Dont dig your own hole

Someone might try to sneak a unbraaiable piece of meat onto the coals.[20][20]This will then fall apart, drip everywhere and slowly disintegrate and fall into your coals. Just put your smack down and say: Not on my Braai, Buddy.

4.4            Meat Sequence


As easy as 1,2,3,4,5

1 Chicken

2 – Wors

3 Chops

4 Steak

5 Braai Broodtjies

The Braai Master may decide his own Meat Sequence, but then he cannot blame the B.O.E.R.I.E. for poor results. Adventurous Braaiers have tried a 3,1,2,5,4 combo or even a 2,3,1,4,5 combo. But never ever try the 4,3,5,2,1 combo.

4.5            The S.A.L.A.D.


What is a salad? Can you eat it? Yes you can. Some observant Braaiers might have noticed some green stuff on their plate. That is a salad.

Many people have wondered why the Salad is made by women and not men. Its not because men are too busy at the Braai. Its not because men do not know how to make a salad. It goes much deeper. To get to the true argument one has got to go back to the root of the salad. Lets look where the word comes from:



Some Ancillary Lettuce And Decoration

The word Ancillary means: Of secondary importance but if you got to the Latin word  ancilla, meaning  maidservant, feminine diminutive of anculus, servant” it all becomes clear.  This ancient dish of secondary importance must be made by the maidservant, or if you want to modernize it, by the women at the Braai.  We must respect our ancestors by allowing the women to use their genetic salad making skills to their best ability. The order of the universe and Braaiing depends on it.

The Salad is not essential to the Braai, but it does add some nice color to your plate. It creates the illusion of health and vitality.

There are some basic rules surrounding the salad:

4.5.1      The Salad may never make up more than 37% of you plate[21][21].

4.5.2      The man may only help with the making of the salad if there are no women present[22][22]. Men that do break this rule forfeit their right to stand around the Braai with other men.

4.5.3      If your Braai budget is tight, you can donate your salad fund to your beer fund.

[1][1] These immeasurable elements primarily revolve around the BSD (Big Swinging Dick) syndrome. BSD is affected by things such as Brandewyn and Coke, nice Ladies in the vicinity of  the Braai, Kick Ass braai equipment,  a interesting piece of meat ect.
[2][2] Do note that its is the Braai Assistants job to stack the coals/ wood.

[3][3] The order in which the different types of  meat gets braaied.

[4][4] Coal Management is the art of ensuring that the Braaiable coals Meat to be braaied ratio is at a optimum. Refer to 4.2

[5][5] In actual fact those who take their braaiing seriously should commit the whole B.O.E.R.I.E. to memory.

[6][6] This is one of the most controversial laws of the B.O.E.R.I.E. but rules are rules and who are we to argue.

[7][7] A true Braai Master will never commit 1.4.2 and 1.4.3, but you always get chancers that slip through the cracks.

[8][8] It goes without saying that if there is more than one nominee then they can share the experience (workload)

[9][9] democratically elected by everyone around the braai. One guy- one vote.

[10][10] It is a guaranteed fact that there will always be some spectator who will think that he needs to inform the Braai Master on how to braai. This is Taboo.  The Braai Assistant must act as a screen or a opinion sponge. He must put the Spectator in his place early on during the braai. If the Spectator has a valid point then its up to the Braai Assistant to mention it with the highest possible decorum to his Braai Master.

[11][11] Even if it is one of those smoke columns that turn like a hula hoop, a spectator must be prepared to constantly move.

[12][12] If there are coals on floor and a Spectator steps on one of them with his bare feet, then by right the Braai Master has permission to be sincerely pissed off for killing the vibe and expel him from the braai.

[13][13] Even if it is to go and chat up the Brazilian Supermodel in the kitchen making a salad.

[14][14] They do not understand the B.O.E.R.I.E. and try to infiltrate the braai with strange ideas and modern thinking.

[15][15] In particular the we only braai with wood school of thought.

[16][16] This is a tedious and interfering process. You constantly have to lift up the grid and throw them in individually. If you are a couple of Brandewyns and cokes under the wind then this will get more and more difficult. Feel free to swear if you burn your fingers.

[17][17] Just Dead, Rare, medium ect. ect.

[18][18] Its not a race.

[19][19] For the really flamboyant, you can give it 2 snaps when you are finished aswell.

[20][20] Like a piece of chicken stuffed with cottage cheese, ham and other crap.

[21][21] Considering that there is sometime a bread roll, some potato or pap on your plate this is more than generous.

[22][22] This includes your Mother.

2 thoughts on “B.O.E.R.I.E. – the official rules & etiquette at a braai

  1. […] And while we’re talking about the fire, let’s be clear that that’s precisely what it is. A real fire, with real flames, using either charcoal or briquettes. (Best not to think about mentioning gas – I won’t even go there.) But despite the somewhat unpredictable cooking environment of an open fire (or perhaps because of it) the whole process has become extremely streamlined, and everybody knows their place. Whether you’re chopping salad, fetching beers, or are the elected tong-master, there’s a very carefully constructed set of events. It’s a process, and there’s even a comprehensive list of rules. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s