*Disclaimer: There will be an in-depth article detailing the story of Southern Smoke, with tips on smoking meat and the best way to boost your braai, in our September issue. For now, I’d just like to tell you about the manliest day of my life. Ever.

Last Friday our boss gave us the option of a normal day’s work or driving out to a farm in The Swartland. The choice was an easy one, and so we all made our way to Callie Louw’s spot in Porseleinberg.

When I left Cape Town I put a dab of Dermalogica’s SPF 15 moisturiser on my face, did up the top button on my shirt so that I wouldn’t get cold and then made my way into the interior. As the day ticked by I noticed a few changes happening. I was becoming a manly man, and I liked it.

If you’d like to be a manly man too, then here’s a list of some of the things that you can do in order to boost your testosterone and stop asking other men to open too-tight jars of gherkins for you.

Speak Afrikaans
At the petrol station I met a petrol attendant from Worcester who spoke Afrikaans with a bray. He stared blankly at me whenever I answered him in English and so I had to attempt to communicate with him in Afrikaans. He was asking me questions about my bike and where I was from and trying to make me laugh with jokes that would be funny even without a punchline. When I rode off my neck was that much less red, growing less ruddy every time I spoke Afrikaans to someone else.

Find Your Way
The directions that I’d been given weren’t exactly drawn up by Google Maps, so there was a lot of stopping and sussing out the situation, licking my finger and holding it up in the air, speaking to men in tractors, backtracking and head-scratching. I still got there before anybody else in our team did, and my voice was that much deeper when I greeted the rest of them.

Take The Dirt Road
Part of the route took me via a dirt road. I was on my motorbike, a gentleman’s cruiser built by those men at the Bavarian Motor Werks who, after being very naughty and starting a war, were told that they’d no longer be allowed to make aeroplanes and so turned out bikes from their factories instead. Anyway, my bike is big and bulky and the tyres are slick, which isn’t ideal for a heavily corrugated dirt road. Despite a bit of sliding here and there I traversed the dirt road like a boss until finally finding the X at the end of my map. My hands were calloused when I pulled my gloves off and people said “ouch!” when I shook their hands.

Drink Beer For Breakfast
It was about 40 degrees on Friday and having ridden for over an hour I was parched. It was only ten in the morning but a young prince by the name of Tim was there with a keg of his eight percent proof home-brewed beer. Somebody had to christen the keg and I was happy to oblige, pulling draughts all day until it was time to leave. I didn’t break the seal until closing time and when I did it was against a tree because Y chromosome.

Eat Meat
Callie Louw opened his smoker, a black beast that he built on top of a trailer that looks like something Allie Fox from The Mosquito Coast could’ve banged up. And if the façade wasn’t impressive enough, the monster’s innards put a lump in my throat. Frankie Fenner’s finest beef brisket, short rib, pork shoulder, baby back ribs, lamb shoulder, chicken wings, a pig’s head… 25 kilograms in total and almost the complete cast from Animal Farm. Callie had started smoking the meat the night before and twelve hours later we got stuck in – sprouting chest hairs with every bite.

Eat The Entire Beast
The meat was brought out on big trays; there were no plates and our pants served as serviettes. We picked at hunks of meat, feeding stringy brisket goodness down our throats like gannets, gnawing at rib bones like hyenas and licking our fingers like the lead in a KFC commercial. There was some hesitation when the pig’s head came out, but I stared him down and after picking at the cheeks and nibbling at a crispy ear I accepted the challenge and tried an eyeball. Tastes like bone marrow. My T-shirt size went from M to XL.


Shoot A Shotgun
Okay, so we’d been drinking since breakfast, eaten a marathon meal that consisted solely of meat and we all reeked of smoke. I mentioned to Callie that I’d never shot a gun before and moments later his pregnant wife walked out the house with a shotgun. My shoulder hurt when I pulled the triggers but I held my cry in like a man seeing his newborn son for the first time.

Crack A Whip
Unfortunately there were only so many rounds. (Also, the tree that we were shooting at didn’t really deserve it). So Callie brought out the next best thing, a long leather whip, which he proceeded to crack for us. I couldn’t get the sonic boom and turned my attention to the other conversation starter that Callie had brought out – something that looked like a Victorian torture device, which is used to castrate livestock. Some wise guy suggested that I try it, but my balls had doubled in size since leaving Cape Town and the elastic bands wouldn’t fit.

Beat The Locals
Afterwards we made our way further down the dust road to a bar with an old South African flag on the ceiling and a coffin on the wall. We drank brandy. The only woman in there was the bar-lady. After beating the locals at pool we beat a hasty retreat, just incase my unbridled machismo impregnated the bar lady when she passed me my next brandy.

Go To Bed Early
I fell asleep on the grass next to the fire. What can I say, the manliest day of my life really took it out of me.


Then, when I woke up the next morning I was like, “Stand back guys, I’ve got this.”