A savoury treat when Jamaican jerk meets South African braai
Succulent pork, chicken, steak and lamb provided a treat for those who wanted to get a taste of South African cuisine last Wednesday evening when the South African embassy joined with Courtleigh Hotel for ‘Jerk Meets Braai: Where We Become One’.
Although affected by early evening showers that caused a logistic shift from The Garden Terrance to the Alexander’s Restaurant, the support was great for an event geared for the exquisite taste of the culinary adventurous willing to familiarize with braai, the South African way of cooking that is similar to jerk.
According to Acting South African High Commissioner to Jamaica, Tyrone Gunnie, the architect behind the event, the difference between jerk and braai is minute.
Gunnie explained: “In jerk, the meat is smoked, while in braai the flame is used. That’s the big difference. The jerk seasoning, the smoke activates that flavour and aroma. Braai is seasoned and placed over hot coal.”
Jerk or braai, the guests dug deep into the flesh of their favourite meats as the event also brought together individuals from many other countries outside of South Africa and Jamaica.
Listed among the attendees were nationals of Trinidad and Tobago, Spain and Nigeria, who mingled with each other for an evening of cultural diversity.
The brainchild of Gunnie, it stems from the South African Heritage Day, which was celebrated on September 24.
Courtleigh Hotel’s Sales Manager, Celia Steele said: “We always have a grill night every Wednesday and Mr Gunnie approached us to see if we could marry jerk and braai, so we coined the event Jerk Meets Braai: When We Become One.
“It is amazing as we are bursting at the seams. We have persons inside the Alexander’s Restaurant, persons on the poolside, some persons in the Mingles Lounge, so it was well supported.
“We were actually overwhelmed at the number of reservations that we received,” Steele added.
Gunnie added: “We have got a room full of diverse people who have come together to support this event, around food, which is fundamentally about culture and I think it is something that we share across geography.
“There are barriers for everything. The way people look, where they come from, how tall, how short. People create barriers for everything.
“But the one thing that transcends barriers is food. The basis of communities when they get together is over a meal. And that’s what we are doing tonight. We are establishing the sense of community with our Jamaican brothers and sisters and people of other nations,” Gunnie said.
According to Courtleigh Hotel’s Web IT Coordinator, Brittany Brown, the evening was enhanced with alcoholic beverages.
Brown said: “To make the experience even better, we are pairing all dishes with beer or wine, so we have our sponsors Select Brands and Red Stripe. Select Brands is sponsoring all the South African wines, with Red Stripe also providing bucket deals.”
Among those in attendance was well-known Jamaican farmer, Donnie Bunting. Bunting, who specializes in the rearing of animals, shared his experience with Loop News.
“The Jamaican food was much spicier and overcooked as is typical Jamaican. Other than the additional spices, I found the meat quite similar.
“I was a virgin to braai and didn’t know what to expect, but it was pretty good,” Bunting said.
Jerk Meets Braai
For Yanique DaCosta, however, the evening gave her a chance to taste another culture, without having to leave the island.
She said: “I think it was a great initiative on the part of the South African High Commission, in terms of the fusion of cultures.
“I had the braai pork chop which I found was very good. It was very well seasoned. It was tender. It is something that I would have again and if I knew how to cook it, I would,” DaCosta said.
South African Sivongile Khumaelo said: “The Jamaican culture and South African culture are linked together. Plus the jerk and the braai blend in together. I am enjoying the evening. The ambience is so nice, everything.”
Khumaelo has been working at the South African High Commission for the past two years and said she has tried and loves Jamaican dishes while giving mention to callaloo, breadfruit and ackee and saltfish as being among her favourites.