#1 Bothering with the boy scout routine of lighting the coals yourself via a convoluted method of scrunched up newspaper, strategically placed firelighters and anything else you reckon will light easily. Just buy one of those bags of coals that you light at each corner and bingo, you have lit coals.
#2 Immediately thereafter, putting the lid on your barbecue to shelter it from the wind. Your lit coals won’t be lit for long. (I know, I know… I have no idea what the lid is for either, in that case. I am simply sharing my experience.)
#3 Letting your fear of the lit coals going out (yes, my name is Lesley and I put the lid on too soon ONCE) lure you into putting your food on the grill too soon. White coals equal edible. Black coals equal… black charred burgers. (Someone really should write beginners’ instructions on this stuff.) (Actually, someone probably did and this beginner just didn’t bother to read them.)
#4 Forgetting that barbecue cooking is much like any other kind of cooking. It needs a little forethought. Put all your food on the grill at the one time… starters, mains and seconds… and you’ll find it’s all ready to eat at the same time. Oops. Reminds me of the time I planted a packet of lettuce seeds in one go… (fact).
#5 Expecting guests to behave normally. Such are the magical properties of the barbecue that even those never before seen at a domestic cooker suddenly feel compelled to hover with a fish-slice and some tongs. (Yes dad, I mean you.)
#6 Forgetting to check which direction the wind is blowing before you decide where to position your barbecue. Anyone for a generous big helping of smokey hair, clothes and skin? No?
#7 Believing anyone who tells you there’s a cooler bit to rest the already-ready food on. It’s a £99 charcoal barbecue. With one temperature. Hot.
#8 Being remotely offended when the first thing everybody does when you serve them up a freshly barbecued burger is to check whether it’s cooked all the way through or not. Bet no-one does that at Heston’s, Jamie’s, Nigel’s et al.
#9 Partaking in a drink or two (or more likely, more) before embarking on all of the above. In which case, you can expect most of your Barbecue Best Practice to go right out the window. Not that you’ll be in any fit state to care, mind!
#10 Asking your parents if they can pick you up a bag of coals while out shopping. Especially if it turns out they’re shopping at a warehouse such as Costco. You’ll end up with a multi-pack of… oh… 12 bags of coals. Which given the UK weather, equates to about three years’ supply. Just as well it’s been a good summer!! 😉
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