Barbie    

His first initiative on becoming Fire Chief was to light up the barby..

Hon DM Wells on the New Chief Fire Commissioner, Qld Legislative Assembly Hansard, 8 May 1997

In Australia, the demand for prawns has increased dramatically over the past 20 years. Australians have included prawns in their regular diet along with pies with peas and fish and chips. Prawns are no longer a once-a-year luxury. Throw another prawn on the barbie has become as much of an Australian icon as vegemite on toast.

Mr Turner, Qld Legislative Assembly Hansard, 10 March 1999 

When I was there last week during school holidays, it was great to see families out there in an open space not having to pay any money and having a cheap day out, cooking a few snags on the barbie, and so on. The residents of a nursing home were actually there having an outing and they were cooking a few snags.

Mr Schwarten on the Roma Street Park, Qld Legislative Assembly Hansard, 12 July 2001

THE smell of snags on a barbie fills the air at this time of year.

Fundraiser runs into snags, 10,000 times, The Border Mail, 10 Jan 2003

An Aussie Barbie in a Sydney Backyard...

There is nothing more Australian than a barbie.  Other countries like to drink beer. Other countries have a pub culture.  But in our travels throughout the world we have never met a culture that enjoys barbeques quite like the Australians. We have the climate for it. We have the informality for it. We have the friendliness for it. It is very much part of our way of life, and is enjoyed from Broome to Brisbane to Bourke. And at all levels of society. 

Given the barbie's importance culturally, we thought we would set out a guide for the uninitiated to allow them to conduct their own barbie, or if lucky enough to be invited to one, to ensure they behave in a way that is culturally sensitive. 

Generally the steps of a barbie are as follows:

1.  Get the beer. 
2.  Get the barbie.
3.  Get the meat.
4.  Get the salads (optional). 
5.  Drink, Cook and Eat in that order, preferably in the sun by the beach. 

It really is as simple as that. 

Step number one then, is getting the beer. A barbie must have beer or it is not a barbie. One of the authors of this site had the grave misfortune of being invited to a Canadian work "barbeque" in London, Canada. He was of course quite excited by this as he hadn't been to a barbie in quite some time.  Unfortunately, the Canadians thought it was perfectly normal to have an alcohol free barbie. Something about not wanting to be sued. 

That would not be possible in Australia. The author was enraged to the verge of madness, as would be any Aussie. 

To top it off, the Canadians didn't even think the BBQ required meat. That's right, they had some meat substitute instead. So this so-called Canadian barbie consisted of staff members standing around, drinking "pop" (ie soft drink), and eating fake meat. 

Such a work function in Australia would seriously be considered a grave insult to staff members, and would do much much more damage than good. 

Anyway, back to the beer.  Traditionally Australians drink lagers at barbies.  Which lager you would pick would depend on where you are living. In Queensland, if you rock up to barbie at, say, Slaughter Falls, you would generally see cartons of XXXX being consumed (all in Eskys of course). However, at Coogie in Sydney you would be more likely to see Toohey's New. To be safe, turn up with a carton of Australia's de facto national lager: VB.  You won't hear too many complaints no matter where you are. 

Pushed for specifics, Pawsey [Project brewer at Castlemaine Perkins] reveals that a burnt piece of meat requires a beer with a bit of oomph, like a stout or a Tooheys Old, to enhance the flavour. "If that's a bit too heavy, go for something with a lot of hops in it with real flavour like Hahn Premium or XXXX Bitter," Pawsey says. Lighter tasting beers should be avoided unless you're at one of those barbecued broad-bean-with-soy-and-cashew-ball salad affairs. "The more subtle flavours of something like a Hahn Ice will get overpowered by the meat," Pawsey advises.

Equal Rights for all,

But I think I'll give the foodies a miss for now because, like most Aussies, I know that all anyone really needs is a glass of chateau cardboard or an ice-cold tinnie with a barbecued supermarket sausage and a large serve of superb Sydney summer weather.

Choking on celebrity chefs' Christmas dinners, SMH Dec 28 2004

There is an Australian adage that when hosting a barbecue, a knock on the door should never be answered as it means the guest isn't carrying the required case of beer. (One should only answer a kick on the door.)

ConvictCreations.com, 10 April 2005

Once the beer is sorted you need to find yourself a barbie. The great thing about Australia is that it is full of barbies. Parks, beaches, camp sites - you name it, most of them have public barbies available to barby hungry Australians.  Some of them are wood barbies, and require you to light your own fire. Many, however, work on gas for nothing or a small fee. Of course, most homes have their own, and it is very common for Australians to invite their mates around to their place for a barbie. Unlike other places, Australian homes are large enough, and in a pretty enough environment with good enough weather to do this. It is perhaps for this reason that the Australian pub culture isn't as strong as some others - we are at home with our mates cooking up a few snags and having a laugh. 

But back to the barbies. Now, we all know that some cultures are obsessed with cleanliness when it comes to cooking, and avoid at all costs cooking space that is dirty (as in with dirt), grubby, grotty and smelly. They would also avoid devices that have been exposed to the elements for possibly years, are rusty and perhaps covered with layers of disgusting fat and infested with vile insects. 

Well you can kiss all that goodbye.  Welcome to the Australian barbie, which will give you all that and more. 

Given this, cleaning and sterilising a barbie is an important first part of the process. Generally this will involve scraping the rust off with a knife, and burning the crap out of the barbie to get rid of the old fat. Rather than a cleaner, the ever helpful beer is often used to facilitate this process. 

This barbie needed a good blast before use...

Once this is done, you can contemplate cooking your food. But first an observation. Generally speaking, the Australian male is a very lazy beast domestically, preferring to leave such tasks as cooking and cleaning to the fairer sex.  If you suggested to an Australian male that he might be found in the kitchen, wearing an apron, whipping up some tucker for the misses, chances are you would be in danger of him knocking your block off. 

And yet, ironically, that's exactly what the Australian male does during a BBQ. 

Males always cook barbies. The women make the salad. That's the way it is. It is a thing of pride for a bloke to be able to cook the meat at a barbie. Although to the untrained eye it may appear as though it simply involves whacking meat on a hot plate and waiting till it is black, it is in fact a very delicate and highly skilled art. It is for this reason that men gather around the barbie when the host is cooking, drinking their beer, and offer very specific advice on how he is going. A bit like how 3 council workers sit around a forth digging a hole and tell him how he could do that better.  Sometimes the cook (who always starts off as the host), will get the shits, and offer the tongs to one of the commentators. This is a sign of aggression similar to slapping someone in the face with a glove. A person needs to be very careful about his response: once the tongs are taken, it is a statement of cooking superiority and a commitment to see the barbie through unless the recipient's skills are also challenged and the tongs passed on again. Young players are advised to respectfully decline the tongs until their skills are more fully developed and they are confident cooking for a large group.

It is quite possible for 3 or 4 blokes to be involved in cooking the one barbie due to such challenges. 

But back to barbie basics. First, you need onions. Lots of them. Many more than you think you would need. You cannot have enough onions. A bit like those cold days in the pool, Onions will shrink like you wouldn't believe. And everyone eats them. If possible the women, who will be busy on the salads if there are any, will have chopped them. Otherwise you will have to do it, and you'll cry like a baby. 

But it's worth it. 

Onions must go on first because they take the longest. Whether or not you take them off when they seem ready to you and heat them at the end is a personal preference. Some prefer their onions black - other, more refined barbie goers, do not. 

Either way, they have to go on first. 

Onions take a while....

One thing to remember when barbequing is that regardless of what you are cooking: onions, steaks, chops, kebabs, chicken - it doesn't matter - it will improve with some beer tipped over it. Further, it is in this sphere that you can assist a barbie cook without insulting him. Every bloke sitting around the barbie will at some stage during the day tip beer on the food. 

[Barbie] Cooking is generally improved with a beer.

Federal Treasurer Peter Costello, Snake upstages Costello on TV, SMH, 21 July 2004

All BBQ food must have plenty of beer tipped on it...

Once the onions have had a fair wack, it is time for the snags. When planning snag numbers, don't forget that a barbie is not a small affair, and may go on for many many hours as beers are consumed throughout the day and into the night.  Hence you need enough snags for after the barbie. Further, everyone likes to nibble on the snags as they are cooking. So really you need enough snags for during the cooking, during the eating, and after the eating. Snags are also good to stuff into the kids so they don't eat the steak. 

Luckily, despite their high nutritional value, snags are cheap. Like onions, more is better. 

Under the guidance of Thommo the bush chef, Mr Costello donned an apron and showed a confident touch when it came to handling snags. "You shouldn't fork them. In this modern day and age, forking them is a bad mistake."

Federal Treasurer Peter Costello, Snake upstages Costello on TV, SMH, 21 July 2004

Congratulations on your bonzer comments re gender. You have more than a skerrick of nous. It's about time the feminist lobby was exposed. Too many politicians, especially those greenies, are "two kangaroos short in the top paddock", "two Falcons short in the top carpark", "a couple of snags short of a barbie", and "two raspberries short of a punnet", plus being "a couple of tinnies short of a six pack" and that is pretty short, almost as short as Gerry Bates!!!

Letter to Hon. Mr Shulze MP, as read by Mr Shulze in Parliament, Tasmanian Hansard, 21 October 1997 - Part 2

Snags come after onions....

Different cooks have different styles when it comes to snags. The person responsible for the 'snag mess' above was a bit of a novice when it came to barbies - and it showed. It took an old hand to come in and sort things out.  Of course, there are as many snag cooking styles as there are cooks.  But in our view, World's Best Practice would suggest cooking snags in rows such as in the picture below. 

Next wack on the steak or chops....

The next step is of course whacking on the steak or chops. These shouldn't take long to cook by comparison, and before you know it you'll be tucking into some fair dinkum aussie barbie tucker.

Getting into it...

Of course, following the consumption of what is always known as a 'few' beers, you may feel as though you need to have a kip.

And why not? After all, it's been another hard day in the life of an Australian!

Time for a kip....

Enjoy.

The world knows us for g'day mate, Anzacs, wallabies and kangaroo... we've got top sheilas and good blokes, utes and we have a coldie around the barbie.  We don't need diapers, candy, ketchup, trash cans and fries we've got nappies, lollies, tomato sauce, rubbish tins and chips. 

Queensland Premier Peter Beattie, Spitting chips (not french fries), Courier Mail, 9 March 2003

Take a break from drinking like the author of this article did - Read why and how in his book Between Drinks: Escape the Routine, Take Control and Join the Clear Thinkers