Barbies, as in the ‘throw a shrimp on the barbie’ variety and not the plastic bimbo with unrealistically long legs, play a crucial role in entertaining when living in Australia.
Most socialising tends to be done at home, as pubs can be few and far between in some suburbs, and clubs are aimed more at getting fit than legless. When friends do gather, the cheapest and easiest way to feed the masses is by marinating anything that moves, throwing the contents of your salad drawer into a bowl and then sending it all outside to the garden.
Once food leaves the relative safety of the kitchen, the women, who inevitaby have done the preparation, then have the rare opportunity to sit back, switch off and drink up. Over here, instead of gathering around wet coasters and bowls of germ infected bar nuts down the local Slug & Lettuce, men tend to congregate around the barbie, tongs in one hand, cold stubby in the other and discuss sport, or cars… or sport.
A barbie is of course that rare event that will draw even the most culinary uneducated, neanderthal male out of the woodwork. Like moths that rush at the electric bug zapper, men move towards the flames and silently battle it out for control of the fork. More fool the host who is called away and forced to relinquish the control of his kebabs. Whether this particular phenomenon is down to ego or possibly the smell of smoke, tapping into a subconscious caveman mentally, it will continue to remain a mystery to women everywhere.
The upside of staying at home and under alcohol house arrest is of course that it keeps you off the roads and lessons the chance of being caught by that dreaded booze bus.
The only real rule that seems to apply when being invited for a barbie is that you are expected, unless told otherwise, to ‘bring a plate’. Just to make this completely clear and save the embarrassment that my mother-in-law faced when she grabbed the wrong end of this stick years ago, it does not mean that you simply bring a plate – it means you take your own supplies, namely the meat, fish or vegetable kebab (depending on your preference) that you want to eat and the alcohol that you wish to wash it down with.
One last thing. While cooking everything to within an inch of it’s life is certainly a crucial part of bbq tradition in the UK, it’s worth remembering that burnt food is actually a carcinogenic. Therefore, for the sake of your health, it’s better when cooking to keep your food on the paler side of black.