It's beautiful in its simplicity: a few bits of meat, maybe some vegetables, on skewers or on their own, introduced to fire. BBQ is all about cooking and sharing. Almost every culture has its own way, its own version of BBQ and here is an overview of the main BBQ loving countries around the world.
South Africans don't mind a huge slab of meat, cooked over hot coals on a traditional braai. They don't mind boerewors either, the spiral-shaped beef sausages packed with spices. Ribs are big too. A South African braai isn't just a charcoal-fired grill – it's also the name of the gathering that takes place around it, something that usually includes a small amount of salad and a large amount of fun.
Australia does have is a great culture around the barbecue – the family gatherings, the backyard cricket, the public park barbies that you diligently clean off for the next person to use. There is always a good reason to meet up around a BBQ and have a great time. Obviously, the sun present most of the year helped the BBQ to become an Australian habit.
To cook traditional jerk chicken or pork in Jamaica you need one 44-gallon drum, cut in half, filled with hot coals, with a grill placed across the top. Then you need a few large hunks of meat, slathered in a mix of spices and then thrown over the fire. A little while later, you have barbecued perfection. To find a good purveyor of jerk meat in Jamaica, just follow the smoke, and the queues.
Go to any Thai market and you'll see plumes of smoke towering into the sky, a sure sign that there are barbecue masters at work. Some will be grilling whole fish, skewered with bamboo. Others will be preparing chicken or pork satays, those charred, bite-sized morsels soaked in coconut cream and dripping peanut-and-lemongrass sauce. Still more will be cooking up sai krog, the spiced Thai sausages so popular throughout the country.
This may not be the country that immediately springs to mind when you think about barbecues, but the Georgians have a long history of grilling meat over hot coals. They call it shashlik: generous hunks of lamb, beef or chicken that are marinated, skewered and cooked to succulent, meaty perfection. Throw in some fresh-baked Georgian bread and few salads, and you have yourself a feast.
Meat is a big deal in Brazil. Visit any "churrascaria" in Brazil and you will sit at a table while this huge array offered to you, from beef steaks to pork loins to chicken hearts to chorizos to whole racks of beef ribs. The meats are held on some serious spindles with a timber handle that are brought to you and a piece of whatever you stomach is craving for will be served into your plate.
The USA are passionate about BBQ, that's not a scoop. From north to south and east to west, you will find a great variety of ways to grill the meat. It's smoked brisket with slaw and pickles in Texas. It's famous barbecue sauce in Carolina. It's ribs in Kentucky. It's pulled pork in California. But It's also burgers, hot dogs, steaks and chickens that are grilled over hot coals and served up to friends and family across the nation.
Another country with a long history of grilling is Iran. And a taste of a koobideh kebab will prove it to you. It is a shish-kebab of minced lamb, grilled and sprinkled with citrusy sumac, served with a blistered tomato and fluffy saffron rice. And good news, you can find Kebab sellers across all the country.
As with so many aspects of Japanese culture, barbecued food in this amazing country is small, delicate, and perfect. We're talking yakitori, the grilled skewers of everything you could ever imagine cooking on a fire, from crispy chicken skin to single spears of asparagus, hunks of salty pancetta to lightly grilled slices of salmon. A yakitori dinner in Japan, paired with plenty of sake and good company, is one of the best ways you could spend an evening.
In India, the grilling is done a little more neatly, not over an open fire pit, but inside a buried clay oven called a tandoor. Tandoori chicken, one of India's more prominent dishes, comes with sides like naan bread, cucumber raita sauce, and basmati rice.
Korean BBQ is very social and generous. Served with endless small side dishes, marinated meats like bulgogi (beef sirloin) or galbi (beef short ribs) are thinly sliced and cooked on a small tabletop grill. Wash everything down with a scoop of ice cream or shot of soju (Korean rice liquor).
Enough said, time to try! What is your next holiday destination?
Sources: Traveller, Foodbeast
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