When you come across a documentary called ‘Barbecue’, it’s not hard to guess what it’s about. Aussies sure know how to throw a shrimp on the barbie (even if we couldn’t tell you what a shrimp is), but it’s also a custom familiar to countries all over the world.
No matter your favourite type of meat or how you like it cooked, you’re sure to see it somewhere in ‘Barbecue’. We travel around the world to discover the ways different cultures conduct their grills. Japan likes its skewered. Sweden uses little aluminium trays while out and about. Texas’ cook-ups are phenomenally immense. Mongolia cooks its from the inside out. Both New Zealand and Mexico prefer theirs underground. And of course, in Australia, the barbie takes place at the local pub. Even in Syria, a little conflict doesn’t stop the locals from getting their daily fix of shawarma.
After 102 minutes of watching so much food on your screen, you are guaranteed to be ravenous. The parade of grilled meals is delectable, as each culture shows us to to cook its specific cuisine. As representatives of each country discuss the intricacies of their barbecuing process and what makes it special, we gain a portrait of the interviewee’s life as much as insight into their cooking habits.
There is an emphasis on the community aspect of a barbecue, as it seems no matter where you are in the world, meat over a fire brings people together. Not just to eat, but to talk and share stories and laugh (and often drink). A few people discuss what it is about a big grill that pulls families and friends together - Chef Katsunori Yashima, an expert in yakitori, surmises it has something to do with primal instinct, fire and meat, that dates back thousands of years.
After 102 minutes of watching so much food on your screen, you are guaranteed to be ravenous.
There’s clearly something about barbecues that fascinates director Matthew Salleh and his partner and the film’s co-producer Rose Tucker; their previous work on the documentary short ‘Central Texas Barbecue’ gave them a taste of what was to come. As a two-person crew, they could remain as unobtrusive as possible whilst capturing these intimate bonding moments, and despite filming in 12 countries and travelling over 120,000 kilometres, present the story with a surprising simplicity.
There are so many memories associated with barbecues, tales told around a meat and roaring fire. It’s a global phenomenon, as food and happiness intertwine into one unique experience. ‘Barbecue’ captures that spirit the world over, and shows for all of our differences, there are just as many similarities. So grab a snag and your mates, and fire up the barbie.