A Stereotypical Summer Tradition

1st July 2005

It is that time of year again. The days are long and the sun shines brightly. It can mean only one thing: it is time for a barbeque.

The great summer tradition is well and truly upon us. Men all around the country light up to display their barbequing prowess. It is a sacred tradition. The man stands by the barbeque beer in one hand, utensil in the other and with his barbequing apron on. He is surrounded by male guests; they all long for convertibles to cruise around in during the hot period. Meanwhile, the wife is busy in the kitchen preparing food for her man to cook. She’ll eventually sit down with the other women to enjoy a cool glass of wine or Pimms.

Is this a stereotypical view of this great tradition? Yes, but there is something about the barbeque that brings out the urge in man to suddenly cook (an urge he manages to suppress during the rest of the year). Do all men fall into this stereotypical role? Should we, in the age of the “modern man”, be moving away from this “primitive” and stereotypical role?

For many years I was under-whelmed by the barbequing experience. The day was full of panic. The barbeque needed cleaning, the gas canister needed refilling, food and drink was needed, and all that outdoor furniture which had been chucked into the garage at the end of last summer needed to be found and cleaned. Often we would have to move at such a speed that even a hummingbird on steroids would have a hard time keeping up. Once it all finally kicked off the food was burnt, and there were never enough kebabs or sausages to go around. Insects would cause trouble throughout the evening, a next-door neighbour would light a bonfire, and as night descended complaints increased. I seemed destined not to fall into the barbequing tradition.

Then I hit that golden age when I was able to use the barbeque. I was able to stand wearing a silly apron whilst burning all the food. I was able to save one of the kebabs for myself, and I was able to choose the perfect music to last through the evening. The barbequing experience changed dramatically from that point onwards. Now, I love a good barbeque. I don’t care if the food is burnt or if an army of ants carries off the last drumstick to everyone’s horror. I don’t care that the barbeque wasn’t cleaned properly from last year. Most importantly, I don’t care about slipping into a stereotypical tradition.

There is something wonderfully “primitive” behind barbequing. You can just imagine early man, coming home from a hunt, preparing the food and then suspending dinner over an open flame. We have removed the hunting part, and for the most part the preparation, but there is still something wholly satisfying about slapping a few burgers, sausages, and kebabs on the barbeque on a Saturday evening, and having a few mates around to enjoy it.

The summer barbeque is a great summer tradition, and one that should remain unchanged. I can’t wait to light up the barbeque a few more times this summer. Who knows, I may even remember to clean it before putting it away.