The backyard barbecue season is almost upon us. It's time to clean the grill and wash down the lawn furniture. It is also time to revisit your barbecue etiquette. Queen of the Weber, Trish Gallagher explains the cardinal rules of summertime grilling.
Spring has come at last and we can dust off our Weber and start grilling some meaty veggie goodness. We have a huge appreciation in this country of BBQs, and the ritual of swatting flies and cricket balls while cremating all manner of once-edible goodies. Nothing says summer like getting some friends over to partake in this outdoor rite.
But remember unless indicated this is not a free-for-all. There are certain rules you must abide by to make sure you are invited back again and, in turn, have people come to your barbecues.
1. Always offer to assist with food
I have a running argument with my partner that whenever we have people over, he suggests "just a sausage and some bread that'll do." I'm sorry I can't do that! I have to provide a banquet. But it will take the burden off your host if you offer to bring along salads/bread/chicken wings.
2. Help the host by bringing the basics
Even if the host has not asked you to bring anything, always offer to bring something that could be needed on the day, even if it's just a bag of ice and paper towels. I was once invited to a barbecue where the invitation requested: "Please bring your own meat, sauce, salad, alcohol, chair and conversation". Exactly what the host was supplying I had no idea as I couldn't carry my banana lounge on the bus.
3. Bring your own alcohol
A barbecue is meant to be laid back and relaxed. But, in my experience, hosting a barbeque can start to cost as much as a night at Crown Casino. If guests bring their own alcohol and soft drinks, this will take the pinch off the host's wallet.
4. Leave the cook alone
When it comes to BBQs, Australian tradition suggests you do not assist the host with the cooking. I'm not one to buck trends. When I am cooking a barbecue, I don't want anyone around me unless they are refilling my glass. It takes great concentration to get the meat just right even if that means black.
5. Don't overstay your welcome
You've been there, right? When old Johnno is singing 'Hotel California' playing the bongos on the Weber lid with an empty beer carton on his head? Don't be a Johnno. Remember that your host has worked hard to feed and entertain you and, when the party looks like wrapping up, help with cleaning and then be on your merry way. Unless the host is old Johnno.
6. Man vs Woman
It is a well-known tradition that the man of the house is allegedly the king of the grill. I however am the queen in my house and no one steps near my Weber. Friends may gasp in disgust, look worryingly at my partner and may even refuse to eat my fare because it hasn't been touched by a man's hand. It doesn't matter who is cooking, let this urban myth die and be grateful for the food you are about to receive no matter what gender thinks he (or she) has the upper hand (even though it's clearly mine).
Trish Gallagher is a regular contributor to ninemsn Food. You can find more of her recipes on her Pink Leopard blog.
Now read: Organise your own party outback.