Sunday, July 23, 2006


One constant with the arrival of summer is mankind's desire to get out in the sun, drink cheap beer and cook meat over an open flame. Europe is no exception, they may have a slightly different take on it, but luckily the fundamentals are the same. Over the last few weeks I've been to quite a few BBQ's over here and it's been quite allot of fun. My standard BBQ greeting was “anyone tap the keg yet? I'll pump...” but unfortunately that doesn't work here. It's generally greeted with blank stares or questions along the lines of “whats a tap”, or worse yet “whats a keg?”.

Although i haven't been asked (yet), overall i would give Europe a B+ for their BBQ's. They've got sun, beer, bikini's, fire, and meat. All the essentials are here but to get their marks up they do need some improvement in a few key areas.

One area where Europeans have not mastered the art of BBQ is in timing. No, it seems that weekdays and weekends are equally popular for BBQ's which any BBQ veteran such as myself would tell you is a bad idea. To properly hold a BBQ you need an open time table, and more importantly you need nothing planned for the following day, least of all work. We all know what a lethal concoction cheap beer, the sun, food and volleyball (or in the case if Europe, soccer) can be. It saps your desire to do anything the following day. Word to the wise, for any aspiring BBQ'ers out there this is your first rule, all BBQ's should be open ended. Typically its best to not send a formal invite as that defeats the purpose but if one is needed a simple start-? will suffice. The key is the “?”. That ? has found me sleeping in many a backyard lawn chair.

The second area where Europeans have not mastered the art of BBQ is in their meat selection. Pork is good, but not for BBQ'ing. The other white meat should always be reserved for indoor dining. Red meat is a rarity here and you might be surprised to hear this, but i received more than one blank stare when i asked where the 'Brats were. This place invented the f'in thing but i should have remembered that they have a strange aversion to shortening names here. (Word to the wise..this applies to people's names as well. Thomas is never Tom, Bernadette is never Berny and Peter is never Pete etc. I did meet a Wolfgang that was a Wolfy, but that ones definitely questionable). Back to Brats, apparently they are too low class for a European BBQ, reserved more for fast train station cuisine. By contrast, in the states you cant have a proper BBQ without Brats. The spicier the better and in true American fashion we even put cheese in some of them. Now thats a heart stopping good time. Actually, as a general statement i think you could confidently say that Europe seems to have a strange aversion to any portable food.

Now I know what you're thinking though, “Corrigan, why not throw your own BBQ and show these neutral Swiss how we do it in the states!”. Well, I'm way ahead of you...mostly. After making so many comments about the differences in the BBQ methodology next weekend I'm doing just that. So far here's the shopping list...

-Charcoal...lots of it. No BBQ'in over wood.

-Steaks. Lots of them.

-Cheap beer. They don't have Natty Lite here..nor Natty Lite Ice. Unfortunately you'd be hard pressed to find 30 beers for 9.99 here (man i miss good old Farmer Jack), how they've survived this long is beyond me. But i think i can scrounge up some Corona or Coors, maybe even some Margaritas.

-Brats. Lots of them.

-BBQ sauce. Too bad i didn't think of this when i was in the states last, but along with Ipods and blue jeans you could make a fortune importing proper BBQ sauce. (Ketchup is not BBQ sauce, despite what many people here think).

-Lastly, a V-Ball court. This ones a bit tough, but I've got a line on a court over in Austria..that's the target location. If not there then we'll head to one of the many open BBQ pits near Feldkirk.

Thats the plan. Simple, yet effective. Results? TBD I feel as though i am an ambassador of good will, spreading the best parts of America throughout the world. I really should be getting paid for this.