Thursday, June 5, 2014

Barbeque Etiquette for Grillers and Guests

"The barbecue is not something new.  Since the time when men were hunters and gatherers, the meat of their hunt was cooked or roasted over an open fire for their families and other members of their tribes to enjoy.  The word "barbeque" is derived from the word "barbacoa," a word used by the Taino Indians in the Caribbean to describe an elevated wooden rack on which they slow-smoked fish, lizards, alligator, and other game." —Margaret Visser 
From colonial times up until today, while different countries around the world have their own version of barbecue, the United States has really taken it close to heart and made it a very "American" culinary expression.

Every region has their own "style" of barbecue; from Memphis to Mississippi to Texas to Louisiana, etc... regardless of the region, the passion of barbecue is so vast and diverse, it would be difficult to try to explain, much less understand it.  It goes from major competitions where men will have a special brand of hickory wood chips shipped in, so that the smokey flavor of their ribs will have their distinct signature, to men donned in aprons in their backyards, overseeing slabs of meat and hot dogs on a grill, while conversing with other men, while the women stand guard over the macaroni and potato salads.

Guest Etiquette for BBQ's:

Dress Code: If you are planning on being sociable and enjoying yourself, please don’t wear white.  Any other pale colors that won’t camouflage, or coordinate well with splotches of BBQ sauce, aren't a good idea either. You may have impeccable manners, but the casual environment of a BBQ simply invites stains to join you and whatever you're wearing for the ride home.

Stay in the "No Grill Zone": Unless invited in by the chef, please stay out. For some, that grill, and all that it entails, is "sacred ground." So hands off the grill and please offer no suggestions to the host about how to handle the grill.

Host or Hostess Gifts:  These are always appreciated, but keep the item in the range of a bottle of wine, serving plates or serving trays, or even something to be added to the dessert offerings.  A gourmet BBQ sauce or an expensive BBQ rub might can wrongly imply that you think you have better taste in BBQ offerings than what the host or hostess is serving.

Offer an Extra Hand: Enjoy yourself but make sure you are not adding to the stress of your host or hostess. If they need a hand, offer to assist if you are able (Bring out extra ice, help restock snacks, etc.)

Use Table Manners: You might be wondering, "How do I eat this without making a big mess?" You may not be able to do that. Accepting it early on, will give you the comfort that you'll need, in order to enjoy your meal. Use a lot of napkins, if they are provided.

Whether you eat with your hands or a fork depends on the cut of the meat. Food like sausage and brisket are fork dishes, while ribs are usually eaten "caveman-style." If your host has provided utensils and you feel you'd be more comfortable using them, even though everyone else is using their hands to eat, go ahead and use the utensils.  If, however, you host or hostess has not provided knives and forks, do not ask for them.

If you’re at a BBQ that is serving meats with a dry rub and you don’t see any sauce sitting around, don't ask for any sauce.

If you are vegan or vegetarian, keep your opinions regarding meat to yourself.  If you feel obligated to reform others, do your host and hostess a favor and do not attend a BBQ where meats are being served.

Drink Responsibly: When it’s hot, our thirst increases and before we know it, we have had 4 Margaritas in less than two hours, so watch your alcohol intake.

Show Gratitude: Be sure to thank your host and/or hostess for a great party as you leave. A handwritten, and mailed, note of thanks always shows your good manners.

The "McRib" Sandwich : The fast-food giant McDonald's started as a BBQ restaurant..."McDonald's Barbeque Restaurant" opened at 14th and E streets in San Bernardino, California in 1940. With a staff of 20 carhops, the McDonald brothers opened the joint as a conventional drive-in, serving ribs, beef and pork sandwiches. It soon became a teen hotspot, since E Street was the area's cruising capital at the time. The place was packed, but teens could be a pain. The restaurant had to contend with racing engines, peeling tires and cussing. By 1948, the McDonald brothers decided to revamp their BBQ eatery by adding speedy service to appeal more to the young family market. The "fast-food" business was born. In the 1950s, entrepreneur Ray Kroc convinced the brothers to let him franchise McDonald's, and he later bought the brothers out. The original restaurant was eventually demolished and today the site is home to the McDonald's museum. 

Some Tips If You are Hosting a BBQ:

  • Theme BBQ Parties are a great way to make them memorable. Perhaps you can include games or contests to add to the fun.
  • A filthy grill is a turn-off for guests. Make sure your grill is clean with fresh charcoal. Have a clean work space if you are having guests to dine. 
  • Different tongs and spatulas for raw foods and cooked foods are a must, to keep your guests healthy and happy while they are there.
  • Try to have appetizers ready for your guests when they arrive, especially if they have driven a long distance to get to you.
  • Try to have all foods ready at about the same time. That way, things do not risk spoiling by being out for too long.
  • If you possibly have vegetarians or vegans attending, offer some vegan choices like Boca-Burgers, and have lots of fruits and vegetables on hand.
  • Provide lots of extra napkins and utensils.  Not everyone wants to eat their meat with their hands.  Wet wipes for your guests are a thoughtful touch, especially those with kids along!
  • Provide designated drivers for those who've over imbibed.  They need to get home safely.
  • One final note... Whatever you do, please don't serve BBQ at your next Afternoon Tea!
On Martha's Vineyard, Emily Post was accused of "losing it" when she served members of the Garden Club barbequed meats, rather than the anticipated tea sandwiches.  When town members gossiped about her social gaffe, she responded that grilled meats seemed more festive for the occasion than "old-fashioned ladies food."

 Demita Usher of Social Graces and Savoir Faire

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