Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Why I Must Be In France, Barbecue Edition

What you get when your blogger is too busy eating she forgets to take a picture...

I must be in France because the word "barbecue" doesn't mean an old manang or a pouting bading standing in a street corner, indifferently waving anahaw fan over red-black coals smoldering inside a rusty box with a grill on top, cooking five-peso sticks of fatty pork and chicken innards marinated in Jufran ketchup, for the office worker going home and too tired to cook anything, so this is dinner, or for the kanto boys who for once have decided to not spend all their money on the gin and the beer, so this is pulutan.

Instead "barbecue" is a celebration, the beginning of warm days spent outdoors sunning on the terrace and taking quick dips in the pool when one gets too hot. Today the women are all together on the giant hammock talking about their men, who are there, gathered around the grill.

The loudest (yes, that would be Pierre) is declaring that here, in the Camargue, barbecue is a religion, prepared for as early as October, when the locals gather the twigs fallen off after the grapes have been harvested. Dried, these go in with the secret mix of other wood, to give what's cooking a special flavor. ("We never use charcoal," he declares to the visiting Parisian and the guy from Annecy. "That would be sacrilege.") There is also the seasoning with oil and herbes de Provence--rosemary, thyme, marjoram, oregano, basil, and summer savory. Think of it as an aromatic benediction.

Lunch begins with Cindy's green salad. The sauce is simple yet sublime. Olive oil, vinegar, mustard, and shallots are mixed, the strong flavors then tempered with two fresh eggs. When the meat arrives, we agree that the making of it must indeed involve something out of this world. How else can spare ribs, chicken, lamb, and various sausages induce in their diners such ecstasy? We worship with a lot of lip-smacking, the sign of our conversion the grease running down our chins.

Afterwards, everybody wants to take a nap, and not just because we all ate too much: Before lunch we have our beers and pastis, during the eating there is wine, and after there is sweet wine, some whiskey, and even a bottle of champagne. If we paid 30 euros for the meat, then double that must have gone to the beverages. Despite all the ceremony, when you think about it, we really aren't that much different from kanto boys.


Gina said...

Ang sarap namang mag-gate crash sa barbecue ninyo, tapos sabihin ko- pwedeng patiquem (french daw yan ng patikim?) ;)Kidding aside, I almost smelled the mouthwatering aroma of your barbecue while reading this post!

haze said...

Apol you should have tried the Filipino way of marinating the pork! I'm sure they will like it...Soy sauce, lemon if you have calamansi better, salt, pepper and 7-up softdrinks, yung iba nga naglalagay pa ng konting ketchup para daw di maputla eh! Put it in the fridge and wait after 3 hrs. OK na yang iihaw ;)!

tommpouce said...

I so know the feeling :-))
A colleague invited some friends from work to a barbecue. Count that, we were 20!!! Couldn't believe my eyes.

apol said...

Yes, GINA, it was a great first barbecue of the year! And because we were lazy we just cut tomatoes, onions, and mushrooms in halves and put them straight on the grill with some herbs. Sarap!

Thanks, HAZE, I shall try this. Pierre has been after me forever to ask my Filipina friends "how you make barbecue back home." He loves those five-peso sticks! Will also hunt down the Lee Kum Kee Teriyaki Sauce Makis suggested. Is this really super delicious?

TOMMP, I am guilty of the exact same thing! I intended to invite just three friends... and by the time the Sunday arrived we were 13. Guess I got carried away by that summertime feeling :)

Lou said...

What you had sounds fab! One thing I regret as a red-meat-avoider is I can't enjoy pork BBQ anymore - the Pinoy version is the stuff my high school and uni dreams were made of.

apol said...

LOU, red meat is divine! You HAVE TO HAVE TO HAVE TO eat it again.