Australians grow up with the idea that the great Aussie barbie is a true blue tradition that distinguishes us from the rest of the world. We (used to) get a kick out of our Australian icon Paul Hogan (aka Crocodile Dundee) trying to teach the Americans how to put on a ‘real’ BBQ.
When I came to Norway, Moose said ‘Yeah, we have BBQs too’. ‘Huh’, I thought, ‘Nobody can barbie like Australia!’ Then I saw everyone carrying around these little dinky foil disposable BBQs that cost NOK 15 a pop. They weren’t even big enough to fit a real Aussie steak on! Where were the big brick barbies that sit in every park and by every beach? The ones that were built for ‘meaning business’ – not these flimsy shoebox grills! Norway does barbies – yeah right!
But I tell you what…
Since I have been in Norway I have never barbied so hard in my life! As it turns out, Norwegians don’t need big ugly BBQs that spoil the native atmosphere with brick and concrete and wooden shelters (obviously to contain the fires as Australia is in a huge drought at the moment). No big iron grill to separate the men from the boys is needed. No electricity buttons to press every five minutes and you can keep those two bobs (20 cents) in in your pocket.
Unlike Australia, Norwegian barbies are about getting out there in nature. Having a quick make-shift cooking device is great so you can eat and be on your way to fishing, canoeing, hiking or paragliding.
Most of the BBQs I’ve had here have been straight on the ground. I’ve even had BBQs on ice! My favourite is going to the beach during the midnight sun and watching the sun travel across the sky as we toast marshmallows.
However, of course, the city goers use disposable barbies. It means they can have their BBQ wherever they want – in their front yard, in the park or at the beach and make a little mess as possible. In public leisure places special BBQ bins are placed so you can dispose of them – and keep Norway beautiful.
To my surprise I’ve also found the disposable barbies are able to cook hard-core steaks and chops, even big chicken breasts in no time. It’s all in the preparation. Marinating meat beforehand tenderises it and enables the meat to cook faster. I also bring foil to help things move faster as the wind can blow away the heat. The foil traps the heat in and creates an oven where the coals sear the outside of the meat and the steam cooks the inside.
Norwegians are starting to get adventurous with cooking on the barbie. It used to be typical for them to just cook pølse (franks) but now you are likely to see corn on the cob, summer chops, fish, shish-kebabs, tomatoes, pineapple and even strawberries!
My BBQ trademark is my grilled chicken and bacon burger. I like to grill the bun too for extra crunch and so the BBQ sauce doesn’t make the burger soggy.
In Norway the BBQ is actually called ‘grill’. Since the rise of the ‘grill’ many new words (and socialisms) have been introduced to Norwegian culture such as:
grillpils – a lager beer especially for BBQ parties.
grillpølse – franks that are a little thicker so you can put them on a stick and they won’t split.
grillmat – anything that can go on the BBQ – fish, meat, veg and fruit. It also includes trimmings such as salads, crisp onions, chips, bread and beer!
grillfest – BBQ party!
ventepølse – ‘waiting franks’. The sausages you stuff yourself with while waiting for the tenderloin to cook.
grilldress – the BBQ suit. A tracksuit worn by Grillers, usually in a glossy material and colours that will burn your retina. Very useful because its elastic waist adapts to over-eating.
The grill season starts on the 17 May – Norwegian Constitution Day. It is popular to have a grill on Midsummer’s Eve (23 June) to usher in the other side of the summer. A lot of schools have little wooden huts in the playground with a BBQ inside so they can grill all year round. And, of course, in every lavvo you will find a fire waiting for you to toast up your food. The grill season might begin in Spring but it never ends!!!