Sad burgers and the barbecue that wasn’t

So, we’re away on holiday at the moment and I haven’t really mentioned this yet because a) this blog is only a week old and I only have about 10 Twitter followers and b) I’m never really sure how much about my whereabouts I should broadcast to the internet.

As a compromise, I’ll share some details, whilst remaining extremely vague at the same time. We’re staying in a beautiful wooden cabin, which is all kinds of romantic and pretty and makes me want to run away and become a hippie and change my name to “Sunbeam” and wear clothes made from hemp. Around the back of the cabin is some decking which overlooks long stretches of lush greenery.

Before we even arrived at the cabin, we promised ourselves a grand barbecue, watching the sun disappear on the horizon, sipping some cold beers and tucking into some almighty burgers.

I’m very favorable of barbecues. The mere whiff of burning charcoal and grilled meat seems to awaken some sort of ravenous carnivore in me.

With our idealistic notions of the perfect holiday barbecue firmly lodged in our minds, a smokey burger mere moments away,  we set to. Mr. Hedgehogs and Sandwiches (I really don’t know how to refer to my boyfriend in this semi-anonymous blog) headed out to the decking to make fire and I spent too long puzzling over how and what to make as vegetable side-dishes.

I’m very idealistic about barbecues and often forget that they’re something of a wild culinary beast that need to be approached with confidence and treated with respect. One cannot haphazardly toss coals into the grill, lob in some fire-lighters and hope for the best.

The barbecue gods laugh in the face of such a cocksure manner – and they punish accordingly.

Sure enough, hours later, we were prodding coals and igniting handfuls of fire-lighters, hungry and frustrated as the pile of cool and ever-so-slightly charred coals looked back at us.

Back in the kitchen, an equally sad state of affairs was taking place in the oven, where two jacket potatoes stubbornly refused to resemble anything other than rocks wrapped in tin foil. I can only pin this experience down to culinary amnesia, instigated by a kitchen with no microwave. My brain had simply deleted the extremely lengthy cooking time of large baked potatoes from my brain.

Any sensible person would have put the potatoes in a hot oven straight away, so that even if you’re resigned to spending the next two hours repeatedly attempting to get the barbecue lit (as we did), the potatoes would be ready.

But no. I spent a good hour scratching my head about other side dishes to make.

After too many futile attempts out on the decking, and the weather growing distinctly chilly, we hurriedly fried tepid failed barbecue sausages, only to then completely overcook them thanks to my attention being elsewhere (on the glum, uncooked, still very raw potatoes).

After a course of charcoal sausages and limp salad, we decided to fry some burgers, toss them in a bun with cheese slices and ketchup, and call it quits.

Dream burger. Does not resemble rubber frisby.
Dream burger. Does not resemble rubber frisbee.

The burgers went into the frying pan a whopping three and a half hours after we had cheerily danced onto the decking to light the barbecue.

Despite being purchased at the local butchers, the burgers had a gelatinous and yet rubbery texture. I’ve eaten a lot of burgers in my time, but never a burger that could be so accurately described as “very bendy”.

Four hours into our barbecue that wasn’t, I surveyed the wreckage. I had used ever pot, pan and utensil in the cabin. Everything, including us, smelled like charcoal, paraffin, and failure. My additional side dishes (stuffed peppers, in case you’re interested) went uneaten and after the bendy burgers went into the bin, we resorted to dessert of shop-bought cheesecake before drinking rum until we passed out on the sofa.

The potatoes are still cooking.

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