Summer = BBQ

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Despite the best attempts of this year’s winter to continue indefinitely, summer appears to be creeping closer and closer. My relationship with this season has always been a complex one, I like the warmer weather but I also carry the latent ginger gene that insures any exposure in the sun, longer than five minutes, will turn my skin a fine shade of puce.

In Germany you know that the Summer time is on the horizon as someone, somewhere will fire up their BBQ and waft that fantastic smell around the neighborhood. I wouldn’t mind, but having no facilities to reciprocate I tend to find myself becoming increasingly jealous. I could attempt a little guerrilla BBQing but I’m not sure how I would go explaining that to my neighbors as I’m caught, steak in one hand, mid grill and smiling politely in their backyard.

There is also an important signifier of summer in that all the supermarkets go crazy for BBQ offers. My favorite recent advert can be found in my local food emporium, Lidl. It features two lookalikes of Charles Bronson and John Wayne with flames lapping around them with the title ‘for real heroes’. I have to wonder what these two giants of the American silver screen have in common with German BBQs but they make me want to find out.

The real surprise about this advert is how little the German BBQs I’ve experienced have in common with the Anglo- American BBQs I remember from home. Most British BBQs attempt to mimic those of the US and offer much of the same things: Burgers, maybe a steak or two but that’s about it. Perhaps at more up market gatherings someone will have attempted to stuff something with feta cheese and olives, which is no bad thing but frequently I’ve been at parties where the fanciest thing you’ll find is a pack of Birdseye burgers, a load of half defrosted burger buns and acute food poisoning.

Strangely enough, I’ve never been offered a burger in Germany, bacon on a stick more than once, but no burgers. German style tends towards massive steaks in a myriad of meaty flavors and of course the epitome of German cultural offerings, wurst. In fact one of the greatest German culinary creations is wurst with cheese in the middle. You would never know the two had been combined until you cook it, and the hidden cheesy ninja makes a sudden appearance to the delight of all. Also an important addition is German potato salad or Nudelsalat (pasta salad) and some random selection from the local bakery.

Also there is a noticeable absence of vegetarian options, which can often be a blessing. There is nothing worse than tucking into what you think is meat only to find out it’s the edible nemesis, Tofu. I don’t actually think I know any German vegetarians, although I’m sure they exist somewhere or other. Perhaps they operate a vegetarian underground railroad, which serves to reunite veggies with their bean sprouts and wheat grass. Good luck to them, but I have yet to go to a BBQ that was enhanced by someone arriving with Quorn.

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