Summer has kicked into high gear and the scorching temperatures are nearly melting any coherent thought from our mushy brains. Despite the weather one of our favourite ways to spend these steamy days is to head to the New Territories to sit around a burning cauldron of charcoal and meat.
That's right we are talking about barbecuing, where in the New Territories the activity is revered as a quasi-simulated camping experience. A true test of the urban camper involves burning your own food - just like the cave men way back when. Who doesn't feel a bit barbaric eating a pork chop from a pair of metal tongs sitting on a plastic-bag wrapped bench with the mountain to your back and the water to your front? It's good feng shui!
The NT boasts 29 government run beaches and 19 Country Parks, many of which have numerous barbecue sites that are open to the public. So grab a bag of charcoal, get yourself some skewers, and let's burn ourselves some meat!
But first, should we barbecue the Chinese way or the Western way?
Chinese vs Western
What is it with the Chinese and their love of octopus balls inefficiently cooked on one singular stick? What is it with the strange Gweilos who leave their friend next to the scorching fire by himself to monitor heaps of charred meat cooking on chicken wire?
With a practical voice, my friend, On King-woody explains. "Chinese like the social aspect of the BBQ," said 20-year-old Woody. "Think about it this way, people gather around to chat and hold a stick - the food is secondary."
I am not convinced but I guess it's a bit like hot pot - social stealing of each other's food. Hmmmmmm. I think Woody might be onto something but his revelation is quite shocking - food number two to a Chinese person? Never!
Tseeeeeeeeng - Bee Bee Que
"Part of the fun is burning your food or trying something new," explained Woody as he throws a rugby ball around the BBQ area. "It's about getting out to nature for city folk and having fun while doing it. It's common to hear laughter and phrases like, ‘You're fish ball is completely black - you have to eat it!' and ‘Don't prod your raw chicken wing near my cooked one!'. Every BBQ you can count on watching one friend hop around the circular barbecue trying to avoid the smoke, but having the winds change on them!"
But then his friend Ben Yung pipes in with a sage voice.
"In the Western-style BBQ, I think it's rather sad for that one person to be cooking, while everyone else runs away to play," quipped 19-year-old ‘Little' Ben who tops out a whopping 6'2". "Also, they mostly cook beef at the Western style barbecue and the selection of different types of food is great at HK-style BBQ."
He is referring to the beef, shrimp, octopus, squid, fish balls, as well as the various wieners, chicken wings and pork products.
Who can resist barbie'd squid?
The Final Verdict
"I guess I like both because they are different," said Little Ben, who takes to the Western-style barbecue with great form. "I see the beauty of the Western-style barbecue and it sure tastes great!"
He is saying this while disappearing throughout the afternoon to swim, play rugby, check out girls and rough house with his friends. The rest of us hard-core BBQ-ers hide in the shade drinking beer while one lone brave German man flips the three huge chunks of Argentinean beef fillet sizzling next to the corn on the cob.
The debate rages on.
BBQ in the summer?
I think it's suicidal to have a BBQ in this heat but would love to do it when the weather gets cooler! Can you suggest places on Hong Kong island that have the facilities?