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The braai is good, but it's no BBQ

Monday, July 5, 2010
Jul 05
12:06
PM ET

Posted by Jemele Hill

JOHANNESBURG -- Even though this is the longest I've ever been away from the United States, I didn't have a homesick moment.

Until the Fourth of July.

A lot of my friends were headed to barbecues and fireworks shows Sunday, and it made me miss the camaraderie that comes along with taking part in an American holiday.

South Africans actually barbecue quite frequently -- barbecue here is referred to as a braai (pronounced "bry") -- but there is something about the atmosphere at a traditional American cookout that makes it special.

I needed the drunk relative who makes a fool out of themselves at every family function, the verbal confrontation that inevitably starts over a board or card game, and seeing the person who contributed the least to the cookout steal 80 percent of the leftovers.

Now that's an American barbecue. At least the ones I attend.

I had to settle for a rib-and-chicken platter at the casino across the street from our hotel. The food was pretty good, but the experience just wasn't the same.

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