Barbecue: the Aussie tradition
WHILE we are all recovering from Australia Day 2013 I thought it would be appropriate to talk about an aspect of this day that most of us tend to partake in.
No it's not the drinking - despite knowing all too well how Aussies love to drink it up and pay homage to our heritage on Australia Day.
It's on a different matter….the Aussie barbecue.
Many Aussies love a good barbecue.
Throwing a snag on the barbie is synonymous with Australia Day.
To put it into perspective, Coles and Woolies will sell more than 19 million sausages across the Australia Day period.
And thanks to Sam Kekovich, the unofficial national dish of lamb also plays a starring role during the Australia Day celebration with sales up 31.7% this year on last year.
Who knows where barbecuing came from? It's all Australian right?
Wrong. I'm happy to show my ignorance here but I really thought the barbecue was something the Australians pioneered.
Interestingly enough, no one's really sure where the barbecue got its name, but we do know the barbecue came about long before Australia was even settled.
Many other countries have also tried to lay claim that the barbecue is their own.
West Indians claim the term originated from baracoa (their slow cooking method for meat) while the French claim they coined the term as cooking from "head to tail".
The Spanish also lay claim to it.
Whatever you do, don't ask an American about the word barbecue.
Watch them fly off the handle about their barbecue being the first and the best.
But really is it good for you - is it really the "best" way to cook meat?
As meat cooks on the barbie, it becomes crispy and blackened.
It's the stuff that makes the meat smell and taste good.
Unfortunately, this action results in two types of potentially carcinogenic compounds being released: heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).
We are taught from a young age that the barbie plate needs to be hot, real hot, before you put the meat on.
The problem with this is the hotter the temperature and the longer you cook the meat, more HCAs and PAHs are released - causing you even more damage.
Cooking meat at high temperatures also can change the molecular structure of meat, making it harder for your body to recognise and digest it.
Let's not forget that in addition to all of that, meat is very acidic in the body and causes inflammation.
In fact, the consumption of meat has been linked to breast and bowel cancers, Alzheimer's and arthritis to name a few.
So if you are still compelled to barbecue, try not to overcook your meat, turn your meat regularly and stay out of the smoke.