Everyone (or almost) likes a barbecue but things can go wrong. Reading the Cape Times online the other day I learned of a horrible case in which two young kids were engulfed in flames after pouring petrol on a barbecue to help ignite it. That sort of disaster is rare: much commoner is a dose of post-barbie food poisoning – ask any local GP. One reason I’ve heard suggested is that men often take charge of the garden cookout and they lack the basic hygiene-awareness of their kitchen-trained womenfolk. They also often stand over the sizzling chops and sausages clutching a can of beer – maybe not the first, maybe not the last – and this can lead to carelessness. So what are the basic points of barbecue protocol? Wash your hands, keep raw and cooked meat separate, don’t use the same utensils and plates for different meats – and above all, make sure that all food is thoroughly cooked. Meat shouldn’t be pink and juices should run clear. Any barbecued food left out in hot weather should be binned after two hours.
P.S. What’s the origin of the word barbecue? I learned long ago that it’s from the French “barbe au cul” since the roasting stake was pushed into a goat’s mouth above its beard (barbe) until it came out the other end (cul). I finally got round to looking in the Oxford Dictionary the other day. There we’re told that the word is first recorded in English in 1697 and was borrowed from Spanish which had acquired it from a Haitian dialect. In my Hachette French dictionary it’s simply described as “mot anglais”.
From Riviera Reporter Issue 128: Aug/Sept 2008