Wednesday 16 January 2019

Amuse bouche... Barbecue bettering

Sophie White

The barbecue menu has evolved considerably in recent years. No longer are we content with a bit of iceberg lettuce and a few anaemic-looking, pre-bought burgers.

The whole affair has become a sort of exercise in 'out organic-ing' each other. If you bought Tesco's Finest, the next person knows their local butcher by name, someone else only does the farmers' market, and then some total lunatic claims they're hand-rearing and slaughtering lambs in their back garden, all in the quest for the ultimate burger.

The 'out organic-ing' is an umbrella term for the passive-aggressive ways that we employ to let those around us know we are better than them, and it is rampant at barbecues all over hipster barrios and middle-class enclaves. These days, when attending the post-modern barbecue, your food contribution and its provenance basically says more about you than, say, your preferred dairy substitute.

If you arrive with a salad that contains anything less than five varieties of grain and eight euros worth of nuts, you are marked out as a pariah, a parochial backwater-dweller who has never sampled samphire.

The current barbecue directive is an extension of the hipster quest for authenticity. A self-conscious and slavish devotion to the home-made. The host's home-brew tastes like piss, but one must be appreciative.

At the modern barbecue, we find the only way to establish oneself as an 'alpha' attendee is to make a bold meat contribution. More and more, we are encountering the Sausage Obsessives among the crowd.

An amateur might produce a herby variety - unfortunately, sausage variations are becoming increasingly more outre every summer.

In certain circles, you won't impress unless you have hand-ground the ostrich meat yourself and stuffed it into intestinal casing, in your very own bijou abattoir out the back of the light-filled extension.

But the home-made condiments, 'concept' burgers and brioche buns somehow don't quite hit the spot. And oh, how we long for a Bundy with ketchup and a meat pattie.

Sunday Independent

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