Even though the first day of summer is officially 21st June, here in Gibraltar, dusting off the grill and serving up a platter of barbequed delights anytime between April/May is a good indication that summer is on its way.
The question is always: who is going to be brave enough to be the first to strike up the BBQ?
Waking up from our winter/spring hibernation-state brought on by the dark, cold and rainy season. The extended hours of daylight means we leave the comforts of the home and spend more time outdoors. We start to alter our eating habits: food becomes lighter and fresher during the day and we tend to eat later in the evening. As the weather gets progressively warmer we move out of the house to cook on open flame; all strategies designed to help combat the summer heat.
Cooking on open flame can only mean one thing – barbeque.
And nothing beats the taste of BBQ!
Succulent meats flame-licked to tender perfection, grilled veggies scorched into savoury crispness, flaking off the bone ribs and sumptuous seafood designed to be cooked over charcoal.
The joy of BBQ food is that you can make it as cheap or extravagant as you want; you can cater for one or one hundred. Children tend to gravitate towards the quintessential BBQ staples: sausages, burgers and corn on the cob. Those of more diverse palate can taste grilled seafood, choice cuts of meat and even ask for these to be cooked to their liking.
But as delicious as BBQ food is, the main reason why we love a good BBQ is the social aspect of the event. These get-togethers are intimate, laid back affairs. There is no procession of courses – the way the food is eaten and served is informal. People will generally dispense with cutlery, eat standing up whilst mingling, locating drinks or foraging for food. There is no meal time constraint; food comes as and when it is ready – meats are not cooked at the same time to provide a self service style buffet; service is relaxed and dependent on whether your guests could have, “another little bite!” This can sometimes go on for several hours should the conditions be right.
BBQ role-reversal etiquette dictates that the man of the household does the cooking. Mum probably cooks all year round, slaving in the kitchen, to provide food for her family but come BBQ season, cooking becomes man’s domain. Subsequently any of the male guests will congregate around the fire and make noises of approval/disapproval as to how well food is being cooked.
Females bring salads.
Ultimately, BBQ’s are very convenient. We can use disposable BBQ sets, self igniting charcoal bags as well as disposable cups, cutlery and plates. Creating minimal washing up after the event.
BBQ’s are usually celebrated with close friends and family and have the same cathartic effect on us as other major celebrations. Everyone feels good at BBQ’s.
So whether you do it in your patios, gardens, balconies or at the beach (getting appropriate permissions) light a fire, skewer some meat or seafood, rinse out your beach towels and get grilling. Let’s enjoy the summer.
As published in Calentita Press 2014