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Barbecuing is a trend

The sun is shining. It’s warm – or at least, it’s warm enough. Little pillars of smoke are rising above gardens and parks and originating from balconies and river banks. There’s a delicate smell in the air – spicy and aromatic, dry and woody. It’s simply delicious. What’s going on? It’s barbecue season in Germany.

Barbecuing – in Germany, it’s a sport, at least among the older people. The younger generation sees barbecuing as an expression of life; they think it’s trendy, laid-back and cool. They arrange to meet their friends or decide to barbecue spontaneously. “Barbecuing promotes a feeling of community.”, says Frank Backes, creator for a unique barbecuing event in southwestern Germany. But more on that later.

Nowadays you don’t need to own a garden or a balcony anymore to barbecue. Barbecuing in public parks, on the cities’ river banks or on lakes: It’s simply a must on sunny afternoons or balmy evenings.

All kinds of barbecues

For these purposes, barbecues have become small and handy. There are small spheres with lids and handles, easy to carry, or smart barbecue-tubs. There are one-way barbecues which you can buy at petrol stations. They are cheap and made of low-grade materials which you can throw away when you’ve finished. There are even portable barbecues with burner paste, invented by clever barbecuing experts to save carrying and disposing of charcoal.

Barbecuing sustainably

A lot of our BBQ charcoal comes from tropical forests, and this can contribute to deforestation, a survey has found. But there are alternatives for more environmentally friendly grilling.

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Those who barbecue at home prefer large and sturdy barbecues, of course. Whereas some may build their own barbecues, complete with chimneys in their gardens, some others may prefer a mobile barbecue station with grills and hooks for utensils such as forks, knives and turners. Barbecue experts endlessly discuss the best barbecue brands and of course the eternal question of whether charcoal, gas or even wood pellets are the only acceptable, flavour-giving fuel.

More than just meat

Sebastian Dickhaut, chef and author of “BBQ Basics” says: “Barbecuing feels so liberating. The weather’s great, the kitchen stays closed; we’re allowed to wear cheesy aprons and to play with fire. And if all this wasn’t enough, we wind up with some really delicious food without too much fuss. What else do we need to be happy?”

And that’s the next important subject: the food. Barbecue experts have long become gourmet chefs, and meat and sausages are no longer the only food on the hot grill. Entire internet forums are dedicated to all the delicious things that can be barbecued for vegetarians and vegetable-fans. Mushrooms, aubergines, courgettes, peppers – combined with cheese, tofu and other delicacies to make skewers or cooked in kitchen foil. Fish too, whether on a skewer, as a filet or whole, is among the range of selected ingredients.

Barbecuing as an event

Since 2007, the listeners of SWR3, a radion station based in Baden-Baden, turn into veritable gourmet barbecue-fans. The event calls itself the “Only and largest synchronised barbecue party in Germany”. For some hours, several 100,000 listeners tune in to turn one exotic combination of ingredients after the other into unusual barbecue dishes, instructed by TV-chef Johannes Lafer. Via internet radio, listeners from as far away as Hong Kong and Australia can join in.

Barbecues are wonderful. Everyone can, must, wants to contribute something. Whether it is the drinks, special ingredients, services as kitchen helper or even supervision of the barbecue. – Come to think of it: it’s weekend, the sun is shining and my friends are coming over. Let me see what I can rustle up for a spur-of-the-moment barbecue ...

Do you barbecue at home? What do you put on the fire, what barbecues do you use and where do you do it? Tell us about your barbecuing traditions in your group’s forum or in a blog.

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Update: July 2018

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