Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Men, Meat and the Primal Pull of the Big Green Egg

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Men, Meat and the Primal Pull of the Big Green Egg

Article excerpt

Summer in the city. To the soundtrack of a thousand pimped-up car stereos, the smell of hot tarmac and burning meat drifts across illegal roof terraces, accompanied by guffaws of manly laughter. It's the annual ritual of the segregation of the sexes--inescapable even in my showily liberal bit of north London, a place where the very graffiti is feminist. A bit of sun, and in a flash we're all back in 1955.

Up and down the country, it's the same story: women chopping tomatoes and slicing burger buns in the kitchen, men standing around the grill squirting lighter fuel about with gay abandon, competing over their facility with fire. Whether they're drinking cans of bitter or glasses of rose, the message is the same--women may be able to lead countries and international banks, but the mysterious art of grilling meat is still men's work.

Not for any practical reason, need I say; go to Thailand, or Vietnam, or Mexico, and you'll find women are the ones manning the streetside grills, expertly flicking water on to the coals, turning skewers and flipping baby goat with practised ease. Yet in the UK this is one bit of cooking that's off-limits to us.

Naturally drawn to forbidden fruit, I made a pilgrimage to this year's Chelsea Flower Show for the sole reason of checking out some very fancy barbecue technology. There may have been fancy plants there, too; I didn't notice. Having read endless breathy hype about an American take on the ancient Japanese kamado cooker, I was there for only one thing, and that thing was a Big Green Egg.

Like much other barbecue-related paraphernalia, this Dr Seuss-like gadget seems to be marketed principally at men, judging by the laddish blurb on the company's website. I'm particularly intrigued by the boast that the Egg will allow me to "do five birds at one time ... non-stop for over 12 hours".

Though I didn't see any such shenanigans in SW3, the testosterone was running high at the Egg stand. …

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