by Lizzie Kay
An amusing true account of our first Austalian Barbie
|Spending a Down Under Christmas with Pauline and Trevor seemed the last word in holidays. Private pool, hot sunshine, cheap Fosters and lots of barbies. Perfect!
It was the first weekend of our holiday and we had all been invited to friends for a barbie. The idea being that everyone brought and cooked their own food, while the hosts supplied the drinks.
As our men were 'busy' Pauline and I went ahead, taking the eski, safely packed with steak, salad and frozen cheesecake.
Accompanied by our five assorted kids we headed for Kangeroo Point and the expectation of a fair dinkum Aussie barbie.
We were almost the last to arrive. People were milling around watching our host pouring lighter fluid over the already fiercely burning charcoals. The heat was amazing. Smoke belched forth giving the air an almost savoury, woody tang.
One Fosters later, a couple of tanned lifeguard type Bruces' threw huge juicy T-bones onto the wire grid above the glowing coals. This sent red hot cinders surging upwards into the smoky atmosphere.
Soon everyone was queuing up, anxious to show off their barbecuing skills.
Our men, as yet, had not put in an appearance and the kids were getting hungry.
"I've never cooked steak on a barbie before", hissed Pauline, desperately.
"Don't look at me" I hissed back, "I've never cooked steak full stop! We can't afford it back home.
She gave me one of those wilting looks.
One of the kids began grizzling in a very loud voice. "I'm hungry Mum!" it wailed. "We didn't have any tea."
Then one of the others discovered the nibbles and they all pounced on these and began chomping on them very noisily.
Ten minutes later there was still no sign of our men, so, bravely, Pauline approached the barbie.
Three minutes later she was back. I know, because I timed her!
With a 'please forgive me I'm a failure' expression she handed me a large paper plate with seven black, soot encrusted steaks perched atop.
With a 'you're as incapable as me' smirk, I took these from her, holding the edges of the plate so as not to burn my hands.
Being constructed of paper it immediately folded down the middle and the steaks swam towards me on a sea of grease. I managed to save the steaks from falling but I wasn't so lucky with the grease.
Gritting my teeth from the burning pain I realised that my skimpy white shorts had offered me no protection. The grease had poured itself straight onto my bare flesh and was slowly making its journey down my legs. It was somewhat blotted in its tracks by the pretty tri-colour straps of my brand new thongs (flip flops to you) Seething with suppressed anger I gave the plate back to Pauline. Then smiling sweetly at a group of fascinated Sheilas' I attempted to mop up my predicament with a couple of those cheap, shiny, one layer napkins that have about as much absorbency as a polythene bag.
In the meantime, Pauline had given all our kids their steaks and salad and they were sitting, side by side on the neat clipped lawn, chewing thoughtfully.
Then I noticed, that instead of using their plastic cutlery (kindly supplied by our hostess) they were picking up the steak in their hands and tearing at it with their teeth. I moved my chair strategically to sheild them from any disapproving eyes and Pauline followed my example.
I then decided to make a somewhat belated start on my own food, only to discover why the kids were eating in such unsocial fashion. My knife snapped in half during my attempt to slice what had become something reminiscent of a semi-cremated tractor tyre.
I casually sauntered over to the large oil drum that was serving as a rubbish receptacle and disposed of my steak, feeling eternally grateful that salad at least, had the ability to be eaten raw.
Shortly after this our men arrived. Full of bonhomie and beer they made their way through the other guests, oblivious to the fact that they were extremely late. Pauline took them off for introductions. Personally, I would not have bothered admitting any relationship, considering the state they were in.
Eventually we sat them down in the darkest corner and I went in search of our by now, rather finger prodded cheesecake, from the centre of the table.
After eats were over everyone sat around talking...not to us...to each other.
I went off in search of soap and water, with which to scrub the congealed lard from my legs. I walked, somewhat stiffly, to the garage under the house and there I spied a deep sink.
Take it from me, it is extremely difficult to remove blobs of congealed lard from ones body with just cold water and no soap.
Suddenly realising that I was being watched by a bemused group of Sheilas' Bruces' (sadly, NOT the tanned lifeguard types) I hastily removed my foot from the sink and fled back to the garden and another Castlemaine XXXX.
Half an hour later the kids were getting tired so we prepared to leave.
Pauline insisted we all go and thank our hostess. As she was in her kitchen it invloved going up an outside , wooden staircase. Halfway up my man banged his head on a cross beam. This caused him to see stars and all he could manage was a sickly grin in the general direction of out hostess.
The trouble with him is, he never learns..so..he banged it again on the way down.
In the car, going home, Pauline asked whether I had enjoyed my first Australian barbie.
I told her that it had indeed been a fun evening. I had scorched legs, my thongs were ruined, supper was burned and my man had a red lump on his head that was fast competing with Ayers Rock as Australia's biggest tourist attraction.
But, apart from that, it was great!...