Man vs BBQ
Ahh there's nothing quite like the smell burnt meat and cold beer on a summer afternoon. While high summer burns the freckles off the pale skinned and feckless 'tis also the season for men to get busy with the grill.
Even men whose culinary skills come to the fore in the kitchen are reduced to their most basic grunting instincts once they start cooking outdoors. "Fire, meat, cook things." Get a group of men together and its even worse, arriving at the Feast of the Burnt Stuff (hitherto known as the BBQ) men will start giving each other's BBQ stations the once over in the same way they look at a friends new car. It's all slow nods and subtext "I see you went for the one with the turbo spit roast" roughly equates to "Well if you were really living out in the wild my friend you'd never be able to cook a wildebeest on that little thing!".
Why is it we become not only primeval but weirdly superior, viewing the offerings of another's cooking with the same hidden disdain that WI members have for each other's Victoria sponge.
And woe betide any loving family member that tries to get in his way. This is MAN territory, standing at his station he is the Lord of the Flames, Master of the Meat, King of the Cookout! And we all seem to think we have hidden tricks up our sleeve as well "Yeah, that little kick? That's my secret marinade". There’s no secret about it, any fool can soon detect the not so subtle mixture of chillies, garlic and Jack Daniels that the poor deceased cow has been left sitting in all night. And then of course there is our own hot sauce recipe, “You've got to try this it will kick your tastebuds into next week..." No it won't, it will land people in A&E you misguided muppet. Put the tongs down and step away from the charcoal. You are a danger to society and whatever you do don't throw titbits to the dog, you’ll kill the bloody thing!
We will of course overlook the several attempts it took to get the grill of doom lit in the first place, why is it one carelessly castaway match can start a forest fire yet it takes an entire box of matches and several gallons of flammable liquid to get a damn BBQ alight (and the resultant fireball will go off with a blast that wipes out all the flora and fauna from your garden and will also remove half your eyebrows and all the hairs from one forearm).
Another while there is the peculiarly male trait of the puffed out chest as we hint at secret recipes (so secret that they are never written down or remembered and simply reinvented each year depending upon whatever poorly matched ingredients come to hand) and hot sauces (bowel napalm) the simple fact is that most meat will be presented black on the outside, pink on the inside and containing more bacteria than the handle of a gent's restroom.
But it doesn't stop there. Oh no. It is not merely enough to try to kill your guests with your satanic burgers, you have to try and out drunk them as well. Sangria? Pimms? Punch? Evil brown stuff in an oversized bowl that defies any definition or description? Yes, we have sun, we have food therefore let there be cocktails. And thy will be done. Concoctions are mixed so potent that should any spill from your glass it will immediately kill grass on contact. And whatever you do don’t get it near the open flames!
But it is our oldest instinct. Man and fire, warmth and food, accident and emergency. It is tradition, we shall hand our own incompetence down to our own sons as our father's fathers have long since passed it down to those that have gone before us.
We are men. We are providers. We are idiots.
So let the good times roll, keep the fire service on high alert, dig out the oh so funny naked apron and please try not to put anyone in hospital this year. And when it does all go wrong? What the hell, there’s always next weekend right?