Barbecue culture and the decline of gas
Once we get rid of gas, I’m worried that the backyard barbie will be under threat. How will men socialise and talk about footy? Is the environmental benefit sufficient to outweigh the threat to Aussie blokehood?
E.F., South Yarra, Vic
A: Years ago, I wrote a newspaper story called “Tongmaster” about this exact phenomenon. How Aussie men are compelled to gather around backyard barbecues, drawn there like moths to a flame – huge, hairy moths wearing oversized cargo shorts with too many pockets and undersized merch T-shirts from a rock concert they saw in the 2000s.
Once at the barbecue, these men will sip beers and discuss blokey stuff: sport, music, politics and, most of all, whether the sausages should be poked with holes or whether they cook better unpoked.
This debate can get pretty feisty, but the sausages usually wind up getting poked because no one wants to argue with a semi-drunk, middle-aged man wearing a Guns N’ Roses T-shirt who’s holding a sausage-stabbing fork.
But that was a long time ago. Backyard barbecues are no longer men-only domains. Women are welcome to join the barbecue circle (although they’re usually forced to stand in the gap where the smoke blows). And the chat isn’t just about blokey stuff; it can be about art, travel and whether the harissa-marinated tofu kebabs are low or high FODMAP. So even if gas becomes a thing of the past, barbecue culture has already changed fundamentally: there is no threat to Aussie blokehood.
In the future, men and women will continue to stand around electric barbecues or hibachi grills or cold fusion hover-Webers and talk about footy and politics and whether or not to poke holes in their bio-engineered laboratory sausages made from stem-cell tissue.
Some say poke, some say don’t; it’s an eternally divisive issue.