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Sunday, March 25, 2018

Traveling Cowboys: The Finer Nuances of a Boere Braai with the Two Cowboys in New Zealand

Die Boere Braai

South Africa is a funny place. Literally, if there is any disaster or depression at the Southern point of Africa, then the people of the country find a way to joke about it. One group notably developed comedy as a coping mechanism for their trials and tribulations. They are the Boere. The best place and time for their comedy is when they braai.

Boer is the Dutch and Afrikaans noun for "farmer". In the South African contexts, it also denotes the descendants of the then Dutch-speaking settlers of the eastern Cape frontier in Southern Africa during the 18th and much of the 19th century. A braai is their outside cooking event that brings people together. If you are a Boer, it is a daily sanctimonious ceremony of wisdom and ritual, closely tied to cultural identity.


The Boere of South Africa has a thirty-year head start on being marginalized in the country of their birth. The rest of Europe and the Western world is now slowly realizing the likelihood of it becoming their destiny as well. Today, the last part of the Boere nation's identity is under threat as the South African government moved to disown them from the farmland they've developed through generations, and owned and cultivated for centuries. It follows a decades-long systematic breakdown and distortion of their sovereignty, history, culture and unique language.

While this was happening, millions of Boere had no choice but to leave South Africa for safer shores and more secure future. Today, they are scattered throughout the world with Australia, New Zealand, USA and Canada the main enclaves where they've settled. Here, they committed to the futures and successes of their new hosts while building a future for their families. Their children are integrating to become Kiwi's, Aussies and Canucks and their language is heard less and less around the dinner table. However, one part of their culture remains. The continuation of the braai!

The Boere continues to braai and is more than willing to impart the ritual and wisdom to anyone keen on joining in. A few pre-requisites apply. Firstly, something needs to be cooked, preferably meat. Steak and chops are preferred. Beef and Lamb is the staple with Pork and Chicken as the vegetables. It can be done on a gas BBQ, however wood and coals are preferred.

Secondly, there need to be lots of beer. The more adventurous lubricate themselves with a drink commonly referred to as "spook & diesel" (Brandy and Coke). For the uninitiated, you will need training wheels before you dance with this devil. One thing is sure, bring your sense of humour. You will need it.


There are some unwritten and commonly agreed rules when embarking or joining in on a braai with Boere. Our video above shares some of this. For example, whoever has the tongs is in charge of cooking the meat. His reputation is at stake, and he takes the responsibility very seriously. No one else is allowed to touch it. If someone does, they immediately assume all responsibility for the food, which can become overbearing. Everyone else at the braai will instantly become an expert critic observing and commenting on your every move.

Over the next few weeks, we will impart a few more wisdom about the braai culture. We are heading to South Africa after a sixteen-year hiatus to see how it developed and to be schooled in some of the new customs and finer nuances of the braai nation.

Stay tuned for more.

Hendrik van Wyk
Boere Cowboy

We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. Please book us here so we can tell your story too. If you want to see us do more of these, then please forward the favour. We will use it for the next episode promoting a local business or event.




On the Road

Carft! Beer 
Hungry Boer

Monday, March 12, 2018

Traveling Cowboys: A Party in a Paddock at the 2018 Wairarapa Harvest Festival in New Zealand


Liz Pollock, the organiser of the annual Wairarapa Harvest Festival, referred to it as the party in a paddock. That was too modest. It was gourmet on the grass!

Sean Toohey of WilliamsWarn arranged with Liz for the last two highly sought-after media passes. The Cowboys were the lucky recipients. Now we could experience what rural New Zealand food festival life’s is all about. We were invited into the inner circle of rustic gastronomy. We thought we'd seen it all after covering countless food events around the globe. What we found was an absolute adventure in gourmet food and wine - in a paddock! It could easily have been a chef-hosted event on Granville Island. The produce, cooking and creativity were that good.


The event took place at the sheltered riverside setting known as “The Cliffs” on the banks of the Ruamahunga River. It is a remote setting, amongst vineyards and under ancient trees. Remote enough for a noisy pino-lubricated hunger party, but also close enough for Wellingtonians to make the trek up the road for a little culture. Masterton and Carterton are both a stone’s throw away.

If you go by the numbers, it is not a massive festival. Around twenty-three eateries and wineries participated in the day-long festivities. They hosted just over two-thousand hungry and thirsty patrons. The tickets are limited we were told, to keep the festival small and personal. Everyone is guaranteed a sampling of what was on offer. There indeed was enough food and wine for everyone. Chairs and tables were in short supply. Locals knew that, so they brought their chairs, blankets and picnic cutlery.

The event sold out within two hours of tickets going on sale. It happened months ago already. The Harvest Festival is not an event you will likely get to, as an outsider occasionally passing through New Zealand. As with many of these top-class occurrences, you have to rely on a local punter or sponsor within a secret food society, to part with a select few highly sought-after tickets for sneaking you into the inner gourmet circle of the best of New Zealand.

When it came to the food, they spared no expense. Only the best made it to the serving table. It offered nothing pretentious and everything hearty. Only the best fresh local ingredients made it into the dishes that included whitebait fritters, lamb pie, salted beef, spicy wedges and Pinot Noir. All were familiar favourites that came with a creative twist as the restaurants battled to outdo each other.


We've said it before. Food festivals must have lots of food. Far too often we’ve seen food festivals turn into taster festivals. At the Wairarapa Harvest Festival, they know how to throw a party with enough food and wine for everyone.

What stood out was the quality and variety of the produce and the lengths the businesses went to serve the perfect dish. Our favourite was the lamb cutlet pies and a little Pinot with the whitebait fritters and the Chardonnay a close second. It was simple and hearty and utterly the best of rural New Zealand.

Thank you for the invite Sean, and Liz. We would love to see you next year again!

Hendrik van Wyk
Food Festival Cowboy

We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. Please book us here so we can tell your story too. If you want to see us do more of these, then please forward the favour. We will use it for the next episode promoting a local business or event.


Getting the Wine


More Food!


That Pie!