It’s August and this area, deathly silent in winter, is now teeming with holidaymakers. Once a popular neighbourhood inhabited by British ex-pats, I the only one left. My former neighbours, of an older generation and the original residents of this urbanisation, have either gone back to the UK or died! All the villas around mine are now used as holiday rentals soin the winter when I take my dogs out at night it is pitch black and there is not a sound to be heard.
In summer, however, things change. After a long day translating, I love to swim in my pool in the dark, under the stars, and cool my body down before I go to bed. As I swim up and down I can see twinkling lights through the trees. I can hear the sounds of families enjoying their pools and having dinner. The smell of barbecues seems to be wafting towards me from all directions… Sometimes that’s the horrible smell of lighter fluid or whatever else they use to get the flames going, but eventually that gives way to mouth-watering aroma of grilled chicken, ribs and burgers.
I don’t barbecue. Although I love cooking, I have never been able to summon up any enthusiasm for outdoor cooking. Firstly, it is too hot to cook and eat outside and there are flies and mosquitos out there. Then there are the wasps, that magically seem to detect whenever I take a piece of fish out of the fridge.Then there’s the fact that I can’t be bothered to carry all the food, plates and dishes and glasses and so on, and so forth outside and then carry it all in again. Am I missing something? People are crazy about barbecues, so why don’t I like it?
According to my research, there are more reasons than my laziness to choose cooking methods other than the barbecue. First of all is the fact that eating barbecued meat, fish and poultry has been linked to cancer. Research has shown that cooking meat over a flame increases our exposure to cancer-causing substances known as PAHs and HCAs that damage the DNA in our genes and may trigger skin, liver, stomach and other types of cancer.
According to the experts, if you must eat chargrilled foods, then you should go for veggies which, unlike meat, don’t create carcinogens and have no fat which means there are no flare-ups to create smoke. If you can’t resist the meat, then soak it in a marinade of beer, which reduces the creation of PAHs when grilling by around 50%.