A typical American backyard barbecue goes something like this: grill meat, eat meat, repeat ad food coma-em. Incidentally, the case is pretty much the same in the rest of the world. Whether it's biltong strips at a South African braii, or galbi at All-You-Can-Eat Korean Barbecue, few things bring people the world over together quite as well as smoke, hot stones or metal, and a nice, heaping hunk of protein.
And we don't just mean your average meat on a stick on a grill (which appears in so many cultures, and of course is delicious) -- but also tandoori chicken from India (cooked in a clay oven), and Hawaiian kalua pork (cooked in a hole in the ground). We've recreated a few of the more iconic spreads from across the globe to celebrate the beauty that is international barbecue. Goodbye long, dreary winter. It's grilling time.
On the Argentinian "asado" menu are huge slabs of meat, sometimes whole animals, stretched out and smoked over an open fire pit, along with sides of chimichurri for dipping, simple salads, and grilled vegetables. The spirits at these hourlong affairs are often free-flowing, perfect for swapping stories with friends and family beneath the setting sun.
Both the name for the meats and the custom of outdoor grilling, South African braiis are so beloved, they even have a "National Braii Day" (fittingly, celebrated the same date as National Heritage Day). Here you can find pork and beef sausages (called boerewors), chicken or lamb skewers (sosaties), and various jerky meats known as biltong, which supposedly pair extremely well with many South African wines
Hawaiian luaus have been copied and parodied six ways to Sunday, usually with some manner of tropical themed shirt and tiki torch. But when it comes to the traditional feast, a few things remain constant: the kalua pig, buried deep in a sand pit and cooked for hours at a time, taro-based dishes like poi and leaf-wrapped laulau, pineapples, live music, and dance. Party hardy.
Get your whole roasted pig fix here. Borrowed from Spain, a lechon
(also called lechon baboy) is the capstone of any Filipino celebration, from birthdays to 50th wedding anniversaries. Pictured here is its simpler, pan-fried cousin called lechon kawali, because suckling pigs are big and expensive, and we were on deadline. Enjoy either version with a couple meat skewers, sides of noodles and rice, a cold Sarsi soda, and of course, a cool dollop of that sweet Filipino gravy, Mang Tomas.
Now a mainstay of most grease-friendly college diets, Korean barbecue is one of themore delicious ways to ensure a slow and steady death. Served with endless small side dishes, marinated meats like bulgogi (beef sirloin) or galbi (beef short ribs) are thinly sliced and cooked on a small tabletop grill. Wash everything down with a scoop of ice cream or shot of soju (Korean rice liquor).
At Lebanese barbecues, mixed nuts are staple. They're out the second guests are over, and remain on the table even through dessert. Meat kebabs are served along grilled pitas and hummus, while pinchfuls of tabouleh salad get paired with a clear, anise-flavored liquor called arak.
In India, the grilling is done a little more neatly, not over an open fire pit, but inside a buried clay oven called a tandoor. Tandoori chicken, one of India's more prominent dishes, comes with sides like naan bread, cucumber raita sauce, and basmati rice.
If you'd notice, no, Australian barbecue isn't "shrimp on the barbie" (they call them prawns there). But their "sausage sizzle" is 100% authentic. At fundraisers and community events, Aussies strip barbecue down to its bare essentials, which down under is nothing more than a sausage and grilled onions and mustard on a bread roll or slice of white toast. In other words, simply too good to be true.
Burgers are very American, as are hot dogs and potato chips and soda and beer and eating not until you're full, but until you hate yourself. The quintessential backyard barbecue combines all these things in the most glorious ways possible, and in almost every way possible. You can put cheese in your beef patty, toast buns on the grill, even make turkey burgers if you're so inclined. Just remember to kiss the chef.