Men and Barbecues

Today was our annual family barbecue. As a general rule of thumb, we can gauge the exact weather conditions of the day on which this momentous event takes place: heavy rain. And more rain. It’s as if the universe strongly disapproves of my dad donning his blue shorts, his sandals and his shades and decides to punish him for his optimism by sending torrential downpours. Despite the fact that he almost always ends up sheltering in our garage, trying to persuade the damp charcoal to burst into flame, whilst the rest of us sit dry inside eating crisps, Dad is undeterred.

So what is it about Man and barbecues? Why is it, that no matter what the weather throws at him, nothing will stop him dragging out the barbecues and proudly keeping vigil over the slowly browning sausages and burgers? Why is it that no one else can take his place? Why is that barbecue cooking is an acceptable form of culinary expertise for a man?

I asked my dad about this, thinking it was interesting from a psychological point of view. He just said that he thought it was expected of him, to which my mother concurred.

I think it is probably a show of manliness, of male prowess. Perhaps men want to prove their masculinity by standing over the barbecue in all weathers to show that they are strong enough to brave the weather. My mother suggested that it was a primitive instinct and I find that I have to agree. It seems men are subconsciously hankering for the stone age: when their ancestors were savage hunters and now modern man wants to imitate this in the only way he really can – by being Lord of The Barbecue. It seems that a way for a man to prove how ‘male’ he is, is to cook a successful barbecue. Maybe cooking indoors is not manly enough: oh no, Man has to be outside, at one with the elements while he cooks to be worthy of the title ‘male’.

This all makes me think of the Disney movie, ‘Mulan’, where Mulan tries to persuade Captain Shang (hot!) that she is a man. She says: “You know how it is when you get those manly urges… you just have to punch something, fix things…cook outdoors…”  Apparently these are the things which all ‘real’ men will do.

Anyway, all I will say is that I’m glad that it is the man’s job to do the barbecue: I think I’m happy to let my dad brave the British summer weather (rain, rain, rain)  and of course clean it all up afterwards!


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