I’ve been invited to a barbeque for my friend A’s birthday in a couple of weeks time. This got me thinking about the Great British Barbeque Experience™. Those of you reading from outside the UK are probably wondering what could possibly be unique about a barbeque. Beautiful weather, group of friends or family, grilled steaks and salads, lots of drinks, great.
That is the BBQ American, Aussie or Kiwi style. The British BBQ on the other hand is an altogether more masochistic experience. There is a great Mastercard ad at the moment on TV here which satirises this perfectly. Dad is standing over a bbq in the garden in shorts and T-shirt, trying to grill the food in the rain. The weather gets progressively worse as the ad continues, till he’s holding an umbrella which is being blown inside out by the wind and rain in one hand, whilst trying to gamely soldier on with the cooking. Mum and kids look on with a mixture of boredom and faint amusement from the lounge. In the final shot the rain suddenly stops, the sun comes out and dad grins smugly whilst everyone sits in the sun eating the food. Voiceover: ‘Keeping the faith…priceless’.
This is a pretty standard barbeque experience here. Someone will suggest having one, invite people round and watch as the promised sunshine turns to good old British summer rain. Never one to be beaten by the weather, the men (it’s always the men) will step outside, proclaim it just to be a passing shower and spend 15 minutes trying to get the damn thing started.
An hour or so will pass. The drinks have kept people happy up till now but they are starting to get restless. The meat is burnt on the outside but resolutely pink inside. Mum (or whoever’s house it is) will come outside and say “Don’t you think I should finish that off in the oven, just to be on the safe side?”
Two hours after everyone arrived, it’s finally ready. Couple of burnt sausages, maybe a burger and some limp salad which has wilted in the heat. Who could resist? ;)