Barbecue season has begun! From now until autumn, most New Zealand socialising will take place outdoors and much of this will include that summer staple known as “The Kiwi Barbecue”. It is, in actual fact, an art form…a ballet, if you will. Someone will clean the barbecue and load it into the back of the car, another person will gather beach items such as towels or blankets for sitting on, sunscreen, insect repellant, hats and sunnies, and someone will buy the meat and decide on which sauces are needed. Someone else will gather the extras such as chippies (potato chips), salads and assorted dips. Once everyone and everything is loaded in to the car the journey to the best site, be it parkside or beachside, shall commence.
On arrival, kids and dogs make a break for the sea or playground as the adults crack open bottles of wine and get the set up started. It’s amazing how quickly this can happen. Within mere minutes, most people are sitting at the picnic table or on a blanket, drinking wine and enjoying nibbles while one person pokes at a couple of sausages on the barbecue and another person (usually a man, let’s face it) watches and advises.
So, what are the expectations if you are invited to a barbecue?
Firstly, there is no need to be right on time, but if you are going to be more than say 15-20 minutes late, a text message is polite so that nobody is second guessing whether you relly are going to show up with that tabouleh salad you promised.
Secondly, don’t show up empty handed, even if your host tells you not to bring anything. Normally you bring a bottle of wine or a 6 pack of beer, some meat for the barbecue (enough for yourself, but this will be shared), and sometime something else like a salad, chippies or crackers and dips or cheese, or maybe even a bottle of sauce or plates. For the last item, you simply ask the host what they need and they’ll usually tell you. So, to be clear that’s, booze, meat (or veggie sausages/burgers), and possibly something else depending on your host’s needs. Everything gets chucked on the barbie or the table so don’t get precious about what you brought. It’s share and share alike.
Finally, at the end of the night usually everyone pitches in to tidy up and look for forgotten items in the dark. Occasionally, especially if it gets cold or rainy, people end up round someone’s house for more drinks and chatting. But don’t expect this everytime. It all depends on the group.