The Day I Discovered My Of BBQ...
Some parents will do everything they can to shelter you from any potential dangers. Others will let you have at it and learn your own lessons. Others still will walk you through the dangers, use it as a learning experience and teach you to understand and respect the things that might harm you. My Dad is one of these last ones…
When my brother and I decided we were into motorbikes, he bought us a little Pee Wee 50 and then set about teaching us how it worked, and which parts of the bike did what, right down to showing us which parts got hot and would burn us. Then it was on to safety gear: what went where and why, how it would protect us in the event of an accident, and what would happen if we weren’t wearing it. Then he showed us how to ride it, and I mean really ride it. Up hills, through creeks, up and down gullies, over logs… That poor little motorbike didn’t even see it coming. Ten years later I had a really bad accident, just off a bicycle, and if I weren’t wearing the gear that he’d taught me to wear, I’d be dead. So his system worked.
The same thing happened when we decided we were into archery, and when we decided we wanted to learn about the old farm rifle in the shed. So it was no surprise when we started asking questions about Controlled Burning after hearing about bush fire prevention on the television, that he decided to take us out into the paddock and show us how it worked.
Being that we lived on a farm there was no shortage of trees that had fallen down, or had been cut down to be used as fence posts and whatnot, leaving behind stumps. So my Dad decided that he would teach us about Controlled Burning by burning out these old stumps to get them out of the way. Not in bush fire season of course.
The first time I remember doing this was a weekend when I had a friend from school staying over. My brother, my friend David and I went in expanding concentric circles around a stump, picking up all the leaves, branches and logs in the area and sorting them according to size. Then we built up a big bonfire around the stump (again, after being shown how) and lit it up.
We sat and watched the fire to make sure it didn’t get out of control, with shovels handy if we needed to smother it with dirt (I don’t know how that would have actually worked given the size of the fire we built!), and after a while realised we were hungry. My Dad suggested that we cook some sausages. I had to ask how as I’d only ever seen food cooked in the house or on a purpose built BBQ. He just told me to pull a few of the coals out with a shovel and cook the sausages in a frying pan.
Off I went up to the house to ask Mum for a frying pan and some sausages. She directed me to the caravan supplies where I found a stainless steel frying pan. I ran back out and collected the sausages that Mum had dug out of the fridge for me. And I was back off down the hill to the bonfire to cook up some lunch.
I pulled the coals out with the shovel and we all took turns holding the pan over the coals. I can remember the smell of the sausages cooking in the pan, mingling with the mix of the burning timber. It was incredible.
Unfortunately, the sausages were terrible.
I didn’t know how to cook, well, anything, and these poor little sausages paid the price. I remember burning the outsides and assuming they must have been cooked, taking a big bite, only to find the insides red and bleeding. So back they went into the pan. From memory we ended up having to scoop the sausage out of the burnt outsides like some kind of meat canoe, which we later threw in the fire like a pagan sacrifice to all things carnivorous.
Speaking of sacrifices, I think it was that stainless steel pan that paid for my discovery of my love of BBQ: no one had told me I needed to use oil. I don’t remember too much about it’s final state but I remember that it was black. Very black. And coarse. I took it up to the house and handed it back to Mum. I never saw it again.
What’s your earliest BBQ memory? Let me know in the comment section below.