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Monday, April 07 2008

Everyone loves a barbecue, including vegetarians. Barbecues (BBQs, barbies or braais depending on where in the world you are) are almost perfect social gatherings, where you and your favourite people hang out in the fresh air, shoot the breeze and prepare to eat delicious food. Any occasion can be celebrated with a BBQ:

• Major (or minor) sports events

• Birthdays, wedding anniversaries, home comings, going away etc

• The fact that it's Friday or Saturday, or Sunday, or Monday ...

BBQ aficionados develop specialised techniques that they swear by, and won't deviate from, under any circumstances. Some incorporate marinades or spice cocktails, others will only use wood, or only charcoal, while others combine the two. Wood users can be further subdivided by the wood they choose. Hickory, maple, apple, cherry and oak are favourites as they add to the flavour of the food cooked. Conifers also contribute to the flavour, but in an undesirable way and are generally avoided.

Outside gas grills or barbecues are used quite frequently in the UK and US, but tend to be shunned by Southern Hemisphere countries (Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa). They're viewed as too easy and clean, and they don't impart the full smoky flavour that is the essence of a good braai.

The phrase, "You don't know what you're missing", is one that vegetarians hear all too often when it comes to outdoor cooking. Meat eaters think that they own the BBQ market and pity those who can't appreciate a good piece of meat fresh from the barbie. In fact, people dread inviting vegetarians to a BBQ because they don't know how to feed them. Vegetarians, meanwhile, roll their eyes and quietly go about sorting themselves out.

The truth is that you can cook anything on fire. Vegetable skewers, made from aubergines, courgettes, mushrooms and sweet peppers, are easy to make, and taste divine when barbecued. Instead of roasting veggies, take the same mix, wrap it in tinfoil and stick it on a fire for 40 minutes and you'll think you've died and gone to heaven. Even brussel sprouts, that much maligned vegetable, get a new, smoky twist that make them out of this world edible.

Experiment with marinades and spices that can be applied to vegetables as well as meats. When it comes to vegetarian barbies, your imagination is your only limit, and if you're truly stuck, try some old standbys: stick a corn cob and a couple of potatoes (sweet as well as regular) on the grill. Your veggie guests will appreciate the effort.

Braais needn't only be reserved for main meals and savoury dishes. Grilled pineapple and brown sugar is delicious, so is BBQ'd banana, you can even leave them in their skins. Serve with a little ice-cream and you're laughing. What could be easier?

For fun in the sun (and rain) you can't beat a good barbie. So raid the fridge, light a fire and tap into the good life.

Recommended sites:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbecue
http://vegetarian.about.com/od/cookingtipstools/qt/vegbbq.htm
http://www.toptastes.com/features/grill/veg.htm

Sandra wrote this article for the online marketers DeckPro deck and patio builders Leaders in the field of decking and patio construction.

Posted by: Send a Meal AT 03:18 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email