by Tova Gelfond
If, like most Atlantans, your Facebook feed has been flooded with imagery of cocktails rimmed with red salts, vibrantly hued chicken breasts with grill marks and hot sauce bottles emblazoned with the word “Nando’s” across the front, then you’re probably wondering one thing: “What the heck is a Nando?” Followed by, “What in the world is PERi-PERi?”
So now we are here to clue you in on South Africa’s worst-kept secret sauce, and it’s gonna blow your mind. Think Sriracha meets Jerk with a lingering flavorful heat in lieu of the tastebud destroying Ghost pepper spicing as of late. It’s vibrant, flavorful and probably the next major sauce trend to hit the nation.
Peri-Peri simply put means “pepper pepper” in Swahili, and it’s as basic as that: it’s a pepper. A Bird’s eye chili, to be specific — just a pepper that’s newer to us than the typical serrano/jalapeno varietals. But to South Africans? This stuff is like ketchup (it was discovered in the 15th century, so they’ve had it awhile). And Nando’s is the Heinz empire to this special sauce; they are the king cultivators of the secret seasoning on a global level.
But it doesn’t stop there. Nando’s is actually a famous, flame-grilled chicken restaurant brand. Well, it’s famous everywhere but here. Start chatting with some Europeans or Brits and mention Nando’s — just see what happens. There is a cult following for their chicken platters and, of course, house PERi-PERi. When you realize just how prominent this brand is, you’ll suddenly understand just how out-of-the-loop America really is.
To get us sauce neophytes back in the game, Nando’s has launched their hot, hot sauce stateside via over 40,000 door-dropped Peri-Peri sauce kits, and a week-long celebration of spice via a pop-up restaurant at a totally transformed Atlanta Beltline Bicycle — all in traditional “Braai” fashion (Braai is a time-honored South African barbecue party). There’s food, music, art, cocktails featuring Old 4th Distillery Vodka and some of the best food you’ll eat this year thanks to the event Pit Master Justin Anthony (owner of Cape Dutch, Yebo Beach Haus, 10 Degrees South, Biltong Bar…).
If you’re dying to get into Nando’s Braai on the Beltline, there are just a few days and a few spots left. RSVP here: https://nandosmay14.splashthat.com. And if you can’t make it to one of these fetes, at least impress your friends when you can explain what PERi-PERi is really all about.