Cooking out – why do we barbecue?

A barbaric summer pleasure

West Indies porterNow this is my kind of beer. A rich dark stout with a malty sweetness.

Never mind your beardy, skinny-jeaned, over-hopped craft beers (otherwise known simply as beers).

Give me a full-on porter any old day of the week, especially a Guinness West Indies porter. You can almost hear the rigging creak under the gentle Caribbean swell as the crew carouse in the fleshpots of Tortuga.

Cut-throats every last man-jack of them, not one would scruple to slit your throat so sweet and so neat you wouldn’t wake from your drunken slumber in the warm Haitian night, lost in the scent of the Governor’s African Lilies.

And yet, you’d wish for no finer cut-throat at your back when fighting some snooty English privateer or maybe boarding a fat Spaniard on the way home and laden to the gunwales with tribute for a King.

Ah, heady days indeed.

What else could a fellow do but light a fire and fling on an inch-thick steak?


When I was a child, we never had barbecues.

Why?  I don’t know. Maybe we just weren’t posh enough although now that I look back on it we did occasionally heat a tin of beans over a fire made of sticks on the river bank.

Does that count? I don’t know. Maybe that was an Irish barbecue.

Leaving aside the peculiar Aussie barbie, which I suspect isn’t all that old, the first time Irish people heard of the barbecue was when television arrived.  That was when most Irish people first encountered a way of life they’d never imagined, thanks to bizarre 25-minute comedies like I Dream of Jeannie and Mister Ed, depicting a way of life that only the wealthy have ever enjoyed.  And the Irish lapped it up, even though most of them barely had an indoor toilet in those days. Even though they had about as much hope of sharing in the American Dream as the majority of Americans did. About as much hope as most Americans do today.

But yet, we managed to improve our lot, or at least many of us did, and so here we are, fifty years after Mister Ed, scorching a hunk of meat over burning coals, praying to the Sun God and slugging this thing we call beer.


I suppose there’s something atavistic about it. I suppose there’s a trigger deep down in our amygdala, emitting floods of pleasure at the thought of killing and eating something.

To my vegan friends, I say, sorry but that’s ok by me. I like the idea of having friends around, roasting things over hot coals and throwing back cold beer. But  yet, I’m fully aware that it might be the result of a cultural expansion from our United States cousins. After all, what else have we not adopted from Stateside?

For now, I’m not going to over-think it. Crack open another bottle of West Indies porter there me hearties and strike up a shanty.


4 thoughts on “Cooking out – why do we barbecue?

  1. Yeah, the ould outside toilet would kind of ruin the atmosphere at a backyard barbie right enough…

  2. As a bearded jeans wearing imbiber of beer may I recommend Leann Folláin stout by O’Haras. Support small business when you can.

    Nothing as social as a BBQ with good food, good beer and good company.

  3. In my childhood days we lit stick fires in the fireplace of a derelict house and tossed jacket potatoes on top. We knew they wuz roasted pretty much when a dark charred colour wrapped all around the spuds. With someone’s penknife we cut the spuds open and tasted morsels of the white insides. Fizzy lemonade and Club Orange – from bottles, not cans – helped wash down the delicious barbeque treat. There is one other ‘atavistic pleasure’ that teenagers enjoy in some parts which doesn’t entail hunting and killing – midnight skinny dipping in the river or ocean. OK it’s been known for some predatorial males to hunt and bag their prey when the dip is over.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.