Life on Tapp: Sun’s out and so are the kings of the grill

The past week or so of largely uninterrupted sunshine in much of the country has, somewhat inevitably, done much to lift our collective spirits.

Friday, 18th June 2021, 12:30 pm
SUMMER BARBECUE: A waste of an afternoon? Photo: Getty Images
SUMMER BARBECUE: A waste of an afternoon? Photo: Getty Images

Despite the realisation that we are a long way off from getting back to ‘normal’, it’s amazing what soaring temperatures, football on the telly, and being able to enjoy a cold glass of whatever you fancy, do for the mood of a nation.

The average Brit makes the most of good weather while it lasts because the vast majority of us have a story about eating sandwiches in the pouring rain in July in the car park of either a beach or a stately home.

We know how quickly it can turn, which is why so many have fired up the barbecue on a school night this week.

Chargrilled chicken kebabs and posh sausages will always trump a jacket spud or a crispy pancake.

There is, however, a small group of us who have very little interest in cooking burgers in the back garden.

Like many of us in this age of consumerism, I have a home packed full of gadgets, tools, and utensils, some of which remain in the box they came in. I don’t own a barbecue, which is almost as unlikely as finding somebody who doesn’t have a firm opinion either way on Brexit.

I have owned barbecues in the past but none lasted for that long due to the fact that they were either a) the cheapest and flimsiest models that I could find or b) that they were forgotten about after the first use and succumbed to the elements.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to tuck into whatever comes off a barbecue just as long as it isn’t me who has singed his eyebrows in the act of providing such a meal. They are very much a waste of an afternoon and, if you haven’t got either the patience or the knack of it, they are the easiest way to ruin perfectly good grub.

Listening to your typical barbecue enthusiast drone on about the vagaries of cooking over coals is almost as tedious as being subjected to a conversation about the battery life of an electric car.

The typical self-styled ‘King of the Grill’ is powered by self-confidence and cannot be told anything for as long as he has a pair of tongs in his hand.

In my experience, it’s best that the chef is left alone while he flips burgers and turns the carefully marinated ribs and should only be approached when most of the meat is being plated up. Praising the red-faced bloke in a pinny who has just spent three hours standing over the barbecue is not just good manners, it is actually the law, and failure to do so is likely to result in ostracisation from your social circle. If that means not being subjected to burnt offerings again then that might be a price worth paying.

I’ve occasionally asked myself whether my lack of enthusiasm for alfresco cooking makes me any less of a man, particularly when learning complicated new recipes in the comfort of my kitchen is one of my favourite pastimes.

The reality is that, unless you are an accomplished chef, barbecues are more an expensive way to show off rather than an attempt at proper cooking and usually the best bit are the salads.

During the course of our short summer, hundreds of millions of pounds will be spent on barbecues across the country, which is good news for butchers and supermarkets everywhere.

If I get my way, all our cooking action will take place in my kitchen, not the garden.