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Don’t you love that magic moment when you light the braai on a lazy Saturday afternoon? Mates round for the rugby and a couple of brews on ice. The coals glow scarlet anticipating the hiss of the first tjop hitting the flames. You hungrily inhale the smoky aroma, you hear the crack of that first frosty beer.  A typical scene at any South African home.

But sadly things have changed and it’s all MasterChef’s fault.

The blissful simplicity of the South African Barbie will forever be a thing of the past. You see, a tjop is not a tjop anymore. It is an organic, farm-fresh Karoo lamb cutlet gently seared over an open flame, pink in the middle and accompanied with rosemary infused jus.

Poor Jan. Now he has to gently massage that Springbok he shot on the farm with red wine and juniper berries then serve it on pumpkin chilli mash with a side of wilted spinach, red peppers and aubergine.

I guess it’s OK for you professional chefs, but imagine the pressure that MasterChef dumps on the average bloke?  It’s enough to make him want to hang up his tongs and blitz his favourite short shorts. He is trapped in his own culinary nightmare. All he has left are the memories of past potjies, his prize boerewors receiving a standing ovation and when men were men and the Blue Bulls wore blue.

The pressure to perform is intense. Even his mates are starting to make him feel inadequate. “So Jan,” asks Tony, “why don’t you try cooking that tjop with a dash of Balsamic, some fresh oregano, honey and Dijon mustard, then 5 minutes each side? That should bring it to its perfect doneness.”

Professional chefs may chuckle, but the kitchen has never been the natural domain of the manne. The braai was his only culinary bastion, where he could shine. Now, thanks to MasterChef, a bloke cannot braai without his 3 closest mates critiquing his efforts. Comments such as “Did you season this?”, “I think  your flavours clash” and “Perhaps a little more time spent on preparation next time, Bud?” are disturbing the natural equilibrium.  That coupled with the exaggerated facial expressions and long stares are just too much for a chap to bear.

MasterChef has single handedly emasculated South African men and taken away from them what was rightfully theirs. Everywhere you look there are TV Chefs. It started with Fanny Craddock and the Galloping Gourmet. Now we have our fill of Jamie, Nigella, Gordon and Heston. With these chefs along with our own culinary intimidators, MasterChef judges Andrew, Bennie and Pete, it is no wonder that Jan and Tony feel they are in a pressure test every time they light the charcoal.

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