Scratching my own funny bone for shits and giggles. Lampooning books, music and being a single woman over 40. Recording observations with an almost Seinfeldian obsession for the minutiae of life. Things can get sweary around here. You understand.

Friday, September 25, 2009

ODE TO THE BBQ

The backyard barbeque remains the most popular of Australian customs even in winter time. I attended one recently and all I can say is that it was entirely too civilised. Perfectly prepared meat cooked on a state of the art gas BBQ with six burners and rotisserie and served on sturdy dinnerware on an equally sturdy outdoor setting. A gas heater hummed away close-by and it was all very nice but my GOD it was a far cry from the BBQs of my youth. Combining, as it did then, various aspects of fire, animal sacrifice, tree felling, alcohol and the great outdoors, the BBQ was considered first and foremost an informal affair. Despite this, it was still a highly ritualised ceremony which included some or all of the following requirements:

1. The BBQ would be crudely constructed of Besser brick and a big steel hotplate - greased up with oil and rubbed down with salt and newspaper before the obligatory charring would commence – usually by your Dad wearing a rubber apron with boobs holding a tinny.

2. Your boob-wearing drunken father would then assemble a woefully inadequate collection of wet and green sticks which would only catch alight after being liberally doused with lawn-mower fuel and fed endless balls of newspaper or anything else flammable within reach.

3. Invited guests who had been asked to ‘bring a plate’ would invariably bring the same thing so that you ended up with three plates of vinegary bean salad and no coleslaw or potato salad.

4. Those same guests would also park their cars in such a fashion as to cause maximum inconvenience. This would include parking in guests with young children who would have to leave first and then locking the keys in the car; parking across a neighbour’s driveway or on the nature strip on a newly sown lawn. It'd also be customary to park in such a way as to block the access and egress of fire engines.

5. Neighbours would play a great role in enhancing the ambience of the event by firing up the chainsaw or deciding it was the perfect time to dig in that load of chicken manure. Some would even indulge in a spot of nude sunbathing just for the benefit of small children.

6. Blackened sausages and steaks would be served up on flimsy paper plates perched precariously on the laps of the participants so that at some point the family pet would score a greasy free meal. This would in some way make up for the torture that would come as every child under ten would later torment the poor animal with a red-hot stick.

7. At some point an item of guest’s clothing would catch fire if not the backyard. This would add an element of danger and drama and it's well accepted that Australians just don’t feel they’ve put in a full day unless they have had a life-threatening brush with the elements.

8. The BBQ would be officially finished when the boys from the fire brigade arrived. That is if they could actually get onto the property.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

You are SO invited to my next BBQ if THAT's what you wear to them.

Abe

Dr Yobbo said...

This was my childhood. Except the old man never quite got drunk enough to think the flammable apron with tits was a top concept.

yankeedog said...

I don't get it. Usually you do humorous takes on social events. What's funny about this? Ain't that the way a cookout's supposed to be? :)

uamada said...

tonight i was ruminating on a situation i witnessed a few years ago - a fight between 2 men over the age old question - to beer or not to beer the hot plate. The ayes had it

NATALIA THE RUSSIAN SPY said...

ABE: Isn't she delightful? I hope to conjure the 50s with my dress on special occasions.

YOB: Ah...comrade...

YANKEE: Yes I think so...ummm....isn't the tit apron unique? Damn.

U: Always beer the hot plate. I can't believe that man even attempted to argue.

Steve said...

My dad had a cooking apron that said BITCH BITCH BITCH on it. I loved that apron, it's where I learned to swear.

And he built his own grill from wood and a couple of hibachi grills. I remember roasting many a gypsy moth caterpillar on it in my youth. Some smells never leave your nostrils.

Nautilus said...

That picture is great, I am going to track down a copy for me wall!!!

Your description pretty much nails the bbqs of my childhood, only it was me and not Dad lighting the fire.

Out bbqs these days usually involve a uniform of Hawaiian shirts and a beer fridge conveniently located right next to the bbq.

The major thing that has changed is what goes on the barbie.

Old Days:
Snags
Chops/steak
burgers/rissoles
prawns at xmas

Now:
As above
Octopus
Assorted other seafood
Eggplant
Chicken
Marinated mysteries
VEGE BURGERS?????
Anything else someone thinks needs to be warm

chazfh said...

Naut, Vegieburgers? Egg plant? to the naughty corner with you.

Yes BBQ's should always be state disataers just waiting to happen.

Bondiboy66 said...

Ah yes memories...I would add such things as grown men falling into our state of the art above ground pool while pissed. Or, on one memorable occasion, riding my minibike into the side of the pool and going over the handlebars into said pool (I can't remember which pissed idiot did that).

Vegieburgers..fucken. When I first met my Good Lady Wife, it was at a BBQ at a mate's share house. A gaggle of vegetarians were whinging that the vegieburgers should be cooked first, so as not to be besmirched by odious Fat Of Animals. My future wife volunteered to cook, as she was a vego...but the others whinged so much she decided to grease the hot plate with animal fat just to spite the fuckers. When we met up again some ten years later and related that story to eachother, I just knew we would do well together!

And yes - ALWAYS beer the hotplate.

YsambartCourtin said...

Backyard checklist:

Besser block barbie; stolen piece of concrete pipe placed upright as an incinerator; welded steel slippery dip; the mulberry tree; strawberry patch; cubby house; concreted cricket pitch; hills hoist.

Nautilus said...

Hey don't shoot the messenger. I don't put 'em on there but these days someone always finds a way to sneak some veggies on the hotplate.

Barnesm said...

You certainly have provided the definitive text of my childhood BBQ experience.

The BBQs you see these days look like high tech industrial design that are on display in the Guggenheim as examples of the Bauhaus school.

A polished steel silver surface finish, for BBQ what were they thinking?

I figured I would embrace this brave new world of shinny BBQs Since Australia is both the land of the BBQ ( a tinderbox dry scrubland, sure let’s use an open flame to cook our food outside?) and the clever country then to make cooking the meat these days a true 21 century experience, two words –

Liquid oxygen

Does a 10cm thick steak in under 26 seconds…..

Barnesm said...

Oh and Bondiboy66, I don't beleive a 'gaggle' is the collective noun for a group of vegitarians.

I'm torn between "A pod of vegetarians" and "A garden of vegetarians". WikiP suggests a sprig of vegetarians though POD is still my favourite.

Bangar said...

Barnes or a limp of vegetarians?

Family BBQs were normally at a park, so first thing was the firewood scrounge or if an upmarket park the spare change scrounge for the gas for the BBQ.

Dr Yobbo said...

Wrongest thing in the UNIVERSE: the Weber BBQ. Guaranteed to make everything on the grill reek of f__kin' firelighter meths.

Bangar said...

Doc, you need the right method. A chimney starter bugger all firelighter material, coals to one side air vent other and soaked wood. When I've actually done it I'll post, otherwise just good advice from the cooking shows.

Flinthart said...

Veges on the barbie don't have to suck. Try this:

thick slices of mushroom, zucchini, tomato, asparagus and capsicum, lightly coated in olive oil: put 'em on the grill, not the hot plate, and sear them just long enough to soften 'em and get a little smoke flavour into them. (Note: fuck your gas BBQ. This is wood fired, or charcoal.)

Tip the lot into a bowl. Add some truffled olive oil, some balsamic vinegar, some sea salt and some fresh black pepper.

You're right. It's not burnt snags. But it is goddam fantastic.

I miss the ambience of the oldstyle free-for-all barbecue. But I don't miss the carbonized food substitutes.

Steve said...

Is it safe to say a group of vegetarians would NOT be called a Murder of Vegetarians?

You know what, you should use that term, just to piss them off. "Oh look, a murder of vegetarians! Nice Birkenstocks. Is that pachouli I smell?"

Last night, I was grilling burgers and hot dogs. I didn't quite scrape the grill well enough from the last time, and some crusties caught on fire, which spread to the crusties that were in the belly of the grill. Flames were shooting out. It was kind of awesome.

Bondiboy66 said...

"Gaggle' was just the first collective noun that came to mind...however 'murder' may have been more appropriate if those fuckers had kept carrying on the way they were. 'Sprig' of vegetarians is good!

NATALIA THE RUSSIAN SPY said...

ALL: My vote is for Bangar's LIMP of vegetarians!

STEVE: Grasshoppers also have a distinctive smell when burnt...but you gotta be brave and tie them to stakes in order to do the job! As for the crusties...well my brother used to LOVE burnt toast. Don't reckon a few carcinogens hurt anybody!

NAUT: Octopus and eggplant? *shudders*

BART: We had a honkin' incinerator...Dad would always manage to light it in high winds as soon as the Italian neighbour would hang out her white sheets. Shitfight!

CHAZ: But ya gotta admit...roasted capsicum is da bomb!

BONDI: The Good Lady Wife sounds like my kinda woman!

BARNES: POD has my vote too. Frail little darlings.

YOB: Never had me a Webber. Though only vaguely related...the smell of an old diesel engine belching smoke is enough to put me off my dinner.

BANG: Let me know when you YOUTUBE that.

FLINT: Sounds tasty but for the truffle oil...once had some eggs with a real expensive little truffle sliced into it and I was somewhat ill. I imagine it's an aquired taste.

Anonymous said...

My old man was a good cook, and an Army Engineer so lighting the fire and cooking was always fun and educational. But the best memorys are where all the army guys started on the few bottles of red dad had under the house. We still talk about those BBQs 40 years later.

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