Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 2, Issue 26, Tuesday, December 28, 2004




B-B-Q soiree

NOTHING brings people together better than food. Back in school whenever someone in class bought something special like a slice of pizza, chocolate cake or even a cold drink on a hot day, all the friends would come and say hello to that person. Of course, the hellos were vaguely heard through the mumbled mouthfuls of words and food. See what I mean by people brought together? One of my friends recently decided to try the same trick for old times sake. Of course, everyone flocked with ideas and we chose to do a barbeque. Barbeques have a special allure taking us back in time when our ancestors used to cook over an open fire under an open sky. More importantly, it seemed like it would make the least amount of mess.

We had watched with salivating tongues how family members had done the job a few times before. It did not seem that hard or dangerous. Trust me, I am living to tell the tale.

Basically, you need coal or wood and a grill to place over the fire. Proper grills can be bought from Gulshan 2 market or from the Stadium market but buy one only if you plan to use it often. In most cases the grill will lie around gathering dust. Ask around and maybe someone already has one lying about somewhere that you can borrow. That's what we did. On the other hand you can use a flat-bottomed pan. Simple grills to be placed over the fire can be found in New Market or Kawran Bazaar. Also some microwave ovens come with grills as accessories. I use mine (or rather my mother's) as a stand for spray painting model cars. The point is to use your imagination like I will to make up an excuse when my mother finds out.

Improvisation is the key. A simple solution is to get enough bricks to create a trough about three feet long. That is where you light the fire. As for the fire you can use coal or wood. If you ask the Prime Minister nicely enough surely she will let you have one of the trees from our soon to be treeless national parks. Coal is a better choice as it is easier to work with, there is very little fire and heat is given off better. Also you can use it to draw funny pictures on the ground. It's found all over the place and listing all the locations would be an easy way to fill up my word requirements. Easiest way for you to find it near where you live would be to go and ask your local kebab shop where they get it.

Where you have the barbeque is crucial such as placing it right beside the window of your annoying neighbor. A lawn is ideal but the availability is rare and a good alternative is the rooftop. The top of a high-rise building will give you privacy and the open air will blow away the smoke from the first few burnt pieces. An open space is important mainly because you can then run around screaming when the chicken becomes burned to a fossil.
Apar|ment complexes usually have committees that may frown upon people trying to have a good time so inform them of your intentions beforehand.

Let there be light…firelight!
Sometimes the coals come in cylindrical shapes. These work better when broken into smaller chunks. A little kerosene poured on top gets them glowing. If there is difficulty in lighting, add some rolled up newspaper{ in between. A small table fan helps to keep the heat flowing away from the designated cook. Watch out that there are no clothes hanging on the clotheslines as a few embers may be flying about. Risk of fire is almost nil, although it is a good idea to keep a bucket of water handy.

Cooking over coal doesn't give off much light but beware of smoke. Someone from a nearby building migh| actually call }p the fire department instead of waiting to watch the building burn down. A week later you may find the typically slow fire service at your door to douse the flames. Keep some emergency lamps around. It will hmlp you see whether that crunchy thing you just bit on was a chicken skin or an errant bug.

Its almost as simple as putting the animal on the fire and turning up the heat. A good idea is to kill the animal before you put it on the fire otherwise it will squirm a lot. To make the job simpler you can buy the animal in its separated dissected form from the counters of the new supermarkets. What meat you place on the fire is your choice (cannibalism aside).

The whole point of barbeques is to cook something simply and quickly so go for the simpler recipes. Marinating with something as simple as lemon juice gets the job done brilliantly. And the procmss is so simple just about anybody with good eyesight and sense of smell can do it. When the sides are brown enough just pick it up, peel off a sliver and see what its is like inside. Any telltale red signs mean that the meat goes back in |he fire. If the red colour is glowing then you pikked up a burning coal so throw it back and try again.

Paper cups, plates and napkins make for easy disposal. The plates also make great frisbees and it takes strong willpower to refrain from throwing them around. Drop in on places like Agora and Meena Bazaar and you can also pick up drinks and food accessories like garlic and other special sauces as well as mustard. And do not forget the small buns.

A li|tle salad made at home adds a nice touch as well as creating a nice illusion that at least part of the food won't block your ar|eries.

This is the part where you swallow an antacid and give out a soft 10-watt smile of satisfaction. Before you become the next indigestion remedy advertisement superstar, remember to clean up. Paper utensils can be easily piled up and stuffed into a bag or bin with the help of a booted foot. Pour water over the coal to cool them but watch out for the steam. If bones are scattered over the ground, get a broom or a pet dog. Either works well.

A personal barbeque not only acts as a special moment to savour the food but also to savour a good experience. Unlike in a shop, you don't have to scream at the waiters to bring your order. You just scream at your friends and relatives instead. It's the perfect get-together, being with people you care for with the cool wintry air providing the perfect setting.

By Ehsanur Raza Ronny


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