Lets have a BBQ. It will be great, we’ll quickly go to the supermarket to get meat and cook down by the river.
What a plan! We were full of optimism as we purposefully marched into the supermarket. Good friends, good food and a beautiful, sunny day. What is so difficult about that? It turned out that there were quite a few obstacles in our way.
To do list.
1. Buy a BBQ.
An important tool for any outdoor cooking involving the grilling of meat. Step 1 was relatively straight forward, simply a case of choosing what size we wanted and putting it in the trolley.
2. Choose the meat.
This task was a little more complex as we scoured the chilled section for fresh, tasty burgers and a sausage or two. Buying meat in Korea is hit and miss in my experience, on a good day you will find yourself devouring a great chicken breast or steak. On a bad day, you may be chewing the fat, literally. Burgers of debatable quality were located along with other invaluable BBQ staples, ketchup, bread, lettuce and so on. By this point we had been in the supermarket for a horrific amount of time and stomachs were growling and the well known, supermarket related anger disorder (SRAD) had kicked in. The disorder is usually caused by flourescent lighting, trolley collisions and impersonal encounters with staff members. Extreme cases may lead to violent outbursts and the kind of wailing usually reserved for horror films. Luckily we were only experiencing a mild form of the disorder where we observed long periods of silence interspersed with mean, cutting comments aimed at whoever was nearest. We had to get out of there.
3. Purchase charcoal and lighter fluid.
The toughest hurdle in our BBQ preparation career so far. Several, gesticulate conversations with supermarket staff later we realised that we would need a blow torch. This is the way to get your meat cooked in Korea. Finding the blow torch was easy, finding the gas to power it was less so. At this point an advance party whose SRAD symptoms were worsening made their way to the riverside and promptly began waiting for the necessary tools. The advance party may also have worked their way through through the crisps and other snacks. Fairly soon the blow torch arrived, complete with gas and the party began.
4. Eat and be merry.
It turned out to be a great afternoon, the sun was out and the company was second to none. We even did charity work of sorts, sharing our food with the local kids playing in the river. The drama of preparing for the afternoon was quickly forgotten as the sunstroke kicked in and delirium replaced any anger that remained. The advance party made a poor effort on the meat owing to the large quantity of snacks consumed earlier. Yet this didn’t matter. There is no greater satisfaction than hunting for your own meat (at the supermarket) and cooking it in the great outdoors (using a blowtorch, overlooking high rise apartment buildings.)
The joys of ‘BBQing’ are truly universal, it doesn’t matter what country you are in the following are still true; supermarkets are dangerous, burgers will burn and there will be leftovers galore. I also forgot to mention the clean up that makes you swear you won’t BBQ again. And of course, we will repeat the exercise over and over again until the summer waves farewell.