THE first braai happened, so the theory goes, when meat was accidentally dropped on to a fire by early hominids. One can imagine the intoxicating smell taking hold in the nostrils of the gathered group who would soon realise the delicious taste of grilled meat.We’ve evolved since then, with braais now involving all sorts of tools and rituals and rules.In the last few years South Africans have taken to celebrating our great braaing legacy on Heritage Day, September 24, because it usually falls within the first few days of warmer weather and also because, you know, braaing! If it’s your first time hitting the grill, or even if you’re a seasoned pro, here are a few tricks and tips that may help to make you the braai master to rule them all.Your toolsFirst off, no braai is successful without the necessary tools. You’re going to need a good spatula, tongs, a basting brush, and an extra-long fork. You could buy these items separately, but that would likely end up being more expensive. And don’t forget the gloves because you don’t want to end up in the burn ward . . . What’s on the flames? Preparing your braai meat is vital if you want to ensure a tasty outcome. Buy the best quality cuts you can find and marinate overnight. This will ensure that the meat becomes infused with the flavour of the marinade. If it’s going to be a party, make sure you know who’s bringing what otherwise you’ll end up with seven potato salads and a steak. And do yourself a favour and ask everyone to bring a salad or some other side dish. And no, a can of beans does not count as a “dish”.It’s all about the vibePut together a playlist with tracks that are to everyone’s taste. Sure, you might be a Fugees fan, but maybe your friends are big on Britney. Mix it up. Throw in some good party tunes, as well as a few slower sounds that will play in the background while you have deep and meaningful conversations about the origins of braaing. And be kind to your braai master. They’ll likely be spending much of their time in front of the fire so put a fully stocked bar fridge nearby. A good braai is usually a day or a half-day’s event so make sure that there are plenty of snacks and refreshments available for your guests to munch on and keep the hunger-jitters at bay while they wait for the main meal.On your marks, get set, braai! There are different types and makes of braai burner on the market. There’s the traditional wood-burning braai. Some people take the ritual of stacking the firewood very seriously. They have their own technique of building the pile. Do. Not. Mess. With. Their. Pile! Or there’s the kettle braai, which is perfect if you live in a flat and your balcony counts as your outdoor area. And then there’s the gas braai. Now, we know the purists out there will scoff and mock, but gas grills make braaing a breeze as there’s no waiting around for the grid to heat up – it’s pretty much ready the second you turn on the switch. So, how will you be spending your braai day?