The Italians are famous (and rightly so) for many things. Building majestic sportscars. Successfully pulling of clothing several sizes to small. Playing football (the recent World Cup not included). Fitting people with concrete shoes and taking them swimming. It’s a long and admirable list, but one particular trait would not appear to be amongst them: the art of braaing.
Sasha Martinengo is an institution on South African radio, patrolling the airwaves of 5FM with a winning blend of great music, an inherent sense of fun, and a love of Formula 1 that goes well beyond obsessive – and which has him at the helm of SuperSport’s F1 broadcasts. In between that, he DJs half a dozen gigs a week, jets off around the world to watch Grand Prix, and is single-handedly responsible for 18% of South Africa’s Twitter traffic. And occasionally, he tries to burn his house down. Sasha very kindly had Jan Braai and myself round to his suburban palace for a braai a few weeks back, and also dragged out his old partner in crime, Ian F (the old Ant and Dec of local prime time radio), undersized sports writer Kevin McCallum, who turns up wherever free beer and food are to be had, and Mrs. Martinengo, who, it turns out, is the spiky haired half of Swedish rockstars Roxette, now living in Johannesburg and married to the local doyen of radio. How does one greet Mrs. Martinengo, then? “How do you do, do you do…”
While Paula politely dealt with a string of awful Roxette jokes, Sasha got down to the art of braaing Italian style, which seemed to be based on recreating the skies above Iceland during the volcanic eruption (see picture for confirmation). But as everyone else retreated inside to cold beer, and Sasha’s new television (which is approximately the same size as Malawi), the Italian reined in his furnace, loaded up his meat, and in under an hour, one very happy group of braai afficionados had confirmation that’s it not just pasta the Italians have mastered. But I’m still not buying Sasha’s story that as a superstar DJ, he had to start his braai in something resembling dry ice.