There is more than one way to light a BBQ! The season of al fresco eating has arrived in Thomas Towers. The extreme heat and shirt-soaking humidity means that cooking outside in the open-air seems like the logical choice. I mean who doesn’t like a good BBQ anyway?
The past few days (or weeks) have been déjà vu for me, a constant stream of BBQ lighting. So last weekend we decided to invite a few of the family around for a group grill. One of the reasons for this was the huge mountain of bloody courgettes that seem to have formed a pile in the corner of our kitchen. It is like they are breeding like rabbits!
Don’t get me wrong I love a grilled courgette. But when you are living on what seems a never-ending diet of the bloody things it can get a little too much. One day I arrived home with some absolute monster courgettes that a colleague from Konavle had kindly brought in to share. They must have some special water in Konavle that produces courgettes as large as a new born baby. “Look at these lovely things,” I exclaimed to my wife as I came through the door. “Oh, I was down in the new market in Zupa and have bought the same,” she smiled holding a huge bag. Welcome to the world of courgettes. So a family BBQ seemed like the logical excuse to burn (yes burn) a few of the green monsters.
Now we have two grills. One is a standard one that needs a supply of wood or charcoal and the other is a cheap electric one from the supermarket. This electric one is almost on it’s last legs and gives off as much heat as a light bulb. But as the shops had sold out of charcoal and as I didn’t fancy chopping down a tree it was the only option for the family grill. Extension cables snaked through the bedroom out the window and into the electric grill. And as it is relatively small it is a test of patience as you need to grill in shifts. First the sliced up green mass of courgettes, then the aubergines and finally the meat.
Of course by the time I got to the meat everyone was already hungry. “OK, let’s eat the meat as and when it is finished, we will eat in shifts,” I commented. All was going well, beer flowed, courgettes disappeared and the smell of grilled meat wafted in the breeze. The conversation started the wine was opened and (yes you’ve guessed it) the last shift of meat was left on the BBQ unattended.
“Oh, smells like someone else is having a BBQ as well,” said my mother-in-law. “Argh!” I leapt from my chair rushed outside to be greeted with Towering Inferno! Flames rising high into the sky. Steak as black as the ace of spades. The stench of melting plastic and burning oil. Yes, all the oil that had collected under the grill had ignited and was burning with a black smoke. I quickly turned it off. But the flames grew higher. I could hear my wife yanking out the electricity from the socket.
The flames were so high that they were almost touching a huge sun umbrella that provides shelter from the heat...how ironic. A nephew dragged the sun umbrella to one side. My mother-in-law whisked the bedroom curtains out of the way of the flames. A family BBQ had turned into a team building exercise to put out a burning grill. “What now?” screamed someone through the black fog of smoke. I was busily pulling off cremated steaks in an attempt to slow down the fire, hoping against hope that it would die down and go out by itself. And then the plastic frame of the grill gave way in a lump of melted goo.
“Oh no, the table cloth is on fire,” someone shouted. Quickly followed by “and the table is on fire.” It was then that through the black smoke my wife arrived with a towel. “Good thinking,” a voice echoed. And the towel was through over the grill. It gave a last puff of smoke – “I hope the towel doesn’t catch fire,” another voice commented. It didn’t. We were left with a smouldering pile of black plastic, steaks and a few cables – that used to be our electric grill. Other victims included a table cloth with a hole as big as the mouth of a scorpion fish and an outdoor table with a big black burnt lump in the middle. Now that was a family BBQ to remember. “Well you could sell it on eBay with the text – electric grill only lit once,” yes now the jokes started to flow. Every cloud has a silver lining – at least I won’t be eating courgettes for the next few days.