You never really appreciate the competing forces inherent in the concept of ‘barbecue’ until you’ve been otherwise utterly brain-battered by entertaining toddlers all day and you find your only route of escape is to barely-adequately cook meatstuffs on two disposable barbecues (ASDA) in a yard in Leeds.
This was where I was at about 5pm the Saturday gone; and it was here when it became abundantly clear: the only value in the barbecue is as a ceremonial. Food enjoyment value is pretty close to nil.
I think any food safety guide worth its salt would advise against eating skewered chicken, which, having ‘slow-cooked’ on a temperature barely above candle level for half an hour, now has flesh the look and texture of the supermarket plastic bag the barbecues were delivered in.
The ideal pull back and reveal scenario now would be to say ha! In fact I did eat it, suckers! But these days I alarmingly find myself opting for the non-idiotic option. I must be getting old.
Another theory I’m going to deign to offer is that plastic-bottled condiments squirt with way more violent enthusiasm in the sun. There is some GCSE science to this which I feel no need to elaborate on here. The sausages and burgers may have been quality for all I know – but I didn’t know. I drowned them all like unwanted kittens in rural areas that are drowned in puree and vinegar-based condiments.
The ultimate result of all this is that ‘barbecue food’ essentially consists of tomato ketchup sandwiches featuring anomalous meat texture therein, with a bit of light health-risk on the side. Perhaps with a slight slick of toddler-saliva at the fringes of the bap for added effect. Call it a garnish.
In spite of this, the barbecue as an event I very much enjoyed, as, it appeared, did all present. This is because Barbecue-as-Ceremonial demands that standards expected of both cooking and eating experience are dramatically lowered to the point of irrelevance.
For the sake on preserving this social norm that has some universal benefit I can’t really put my finger on, this lowering cannot ever be commented on publically, and specifically during a barbecue scenario. If it is, barbecues, Australia and barbecue relish will be concepts forever erased from all our memories. That might be a bad thing. Just don’t.
BARBECUE FOOD: 3/10
BARBECUE AMBIENCE: 7/10
BARBECUE CEREMONIAL VALUE: 9/10