It’s barbecue season in the UK and, with the late-August bank holiday coming up, now is the time to turn your thoughts to the joys of eating, and drinking, al fresco.
Of course, when it comes to the Great British BBQ there is one item above all others: the elephant.
This is the elephant in the room, or on the patio when it comes to barbecuing. We’re talking about the weather. However, far from dissuading us from exploring the joys of charcoal cooking, the unpredictability of the British weather makes us even more determined to get outdoors and man the BBQ.
It is an act of defiance and of making the most of the summer sometimes against the odds.
In short, while the BBQ itself doesn’t have its origins in this country, it has become an indispensable summer activity and it embodies a certain doggedly determined bulldog spirit.
As wholesale food and drinks suppliers in Bury, serving Manchester and the North West, we know what best to accompany your customers’ barbecues, and we understand why so many of them find the barbecue irresistible, whatever the state of the British weather.
So, in tribute to the nation’s dogged spirit of determination, here are our thoughts on BBQ season and the food and drink that go with it. Make sure you’re fully prepared.
Where does Barbecuing Come From?
The barbecue is one of those things that no one can really agree on when it comes to its origins.
For one thing, BBQ describes both the method of cooking and the apparatus you use to do it.
You’ve got your chargrilled meat, or prawns, or, nowadays, veggie option such as haloumi cheese. You’ve also got your barbecue grill, which can be anything from a tin foil tray to an enormous, all-purpose outdoor oven.
Barbecue comes from the Spanish word barbacoa, possibly derived from the language of native peoples of the Caribbean and Florida. There is also evidence of the word coming from Haiti, translated as a kind of indigenous Haitian grill of a wooden framework resting on sticks over a fire, from as far back as the 15th century.
Either way, barbecue historically had certain primitive or savage connotations, and there is still a sense that cooking food outdoors, over fire, satisfied some deep-seated urge in us to connect with our primitive selves.
Samuel Johnson’s 1756 dictionary defined the verb to barbecue as dressing a whole hog; and in the southern states of America, barbecues initially involved the cooking of pork, in the 19th century.
Barbecue remains a traditional US food, and in its modern form, it feels very much grounded in American culture.
Food Tastes Better Outdoors
The barbecue, transplanted to the UK, loses some of this cultural association. Similarly, the whole Australian “toss a prawn on the Barbie” tradition is lacking here.
Instead, we have more of a picnic outdoors with live cooking. This isn’t to say we Brits don’t do BBQs well, but we do do them in our own way.
Because food tastes better outdoors, regardless of how well we hold our barbecues, we’ve already won half the battle. Add to this a certain party atmosphere, with plenty of drinks and snacks, and you’ve got the perfect day in, spent outside, of course.
Why does food taste better if you’re eating it outside? Some of this is down to sense memory, whereby what we experience at a given time makes us remember something similar from the past. Eating outdoors evokes childhood memories, of experiences when barbecues and picnics marked a thrilling change from the norm.
This change of routine is a big factor in why barbecues taste so good, and something about the combination of fresh air and freshly cooked food.
Essentials for Your BBQ
While it might be nice to think of the barbecue as somehow spontaneous, to be successful it does need some planning, otherwise you risk your food not being cooked in time for people to enjoy it, or worse, not being cooked enough and thereby risking their health.
Also, ensure you’ve got all the implements you need, such as outdoor cutlery and plates. Ensure you’ve got plenty of drinks, such as beer, and snacks for people to munch on while they’re waiting for the barbecued food.
Light the barbecue well in advance of when you’re expecting to eat. Firstly, this ensures it’s hot enough, and secondly, a few advance choice morsels sizzling when guests arrive helps set the scene.
Keep an eye on what’s going on at all times. An unattended barbecue is not good from a safety perspective, and you won’t get lonely. People love a good chat around the cooking area.
Make sure you organise your ingredients, especially that you keep raw and cooked food separate.
If you’ve got food out of the fridge for cooking, give it some time to warm up beforehand, at least 20 minutes, so it’s approaching room temperature.
Control your temperature when you’re grilling food on the barbecue, so that it isn’t in a cold spot, but nor does it ignite and cook too quickly on the outside without being done all the way through. And talking of which…
Always test your food to check it is properly cooked through. Cut into the centre of the meat, or fish, with a small, sharp knife. With meat, the juices should be running clear; for flaky fish, the flakes should come apart with a fork.
For meats, you should rest them after barbecuing, before serving them. This lets the meat reabsorb its cooking juices so that it is moist. While resting for a few minutes, ensure the meat is covered and away from the barbecue rack.
Here’s a top tip: make sure you marinate your meat. Marinades flavour meat, but they also tenderise it. You’ll get the best flavour from doing this overnight, before your BBQ.
Don’t go crazy with your marinade though – some more delicate fish and prawns can quickly be overwhelmed by additional strong flavours.
Get In Touch
We’re a specialist wholesale supplier of drinks and snacks covering Lancashire and the North West. For the perfect barbecue, you need to set the scene, and we’ve got the right drinks, snacks and utensils to help you do it. Just pick up the phone and call 0161 763 6020, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.