Trawling through my ancestry, as I do quite frequently, I discovered varying modes of employment for my family ranging from coal miner, to cordwainer and then to agricultural labourer.
You may ask yourself why is he talking about coal mining and shoe making when this is a food blog? The answer is local colour. The real focus is the agricultural part. In fact there seems to have been a mixture of working on farms and mining since the beginning of the 19th century.
I happened across a consumer TV programme this morning and heard the words 'raw milk' that triggered memories of my parents. They both spent time in their youth helping out on a small holding and often related tales of drinking the milk straight from the cow and eating a raw egg when the shell was cracked. If you said that you had done either these days, I could see the ambulance being sent for, stomach pumped and high dose anti-biotics being administered. Eighty years ago it was common place. So what has changed?
I believe that we have become excessively neurotic.
So why the above?
The main reason was attending a barbecue at the weekend so I didn't cook a big meal to last three or four days. It raised the question of food hygiene and thoroughly cooking meat. I was brought up on meat that was cooked 'thoroughly' in fact so much so that it tested the strength of the teeth! Seriously though my mother was a good cook, employed as a pastry cook, but her meat was always well done. Growing up between the wars this is hardly surprising as quality varied.
While travelling in France for the first time we came across plenty of rare meat, even burgers served in fast food chains tended to be rare. The culture there is different from ours but the world of cooking has moved on to the point where there are similarities.
The point really is about the quality of meat we buy and, in a sense, the demise of the family butcher to a fraction of the service it used to be, is linked.
In my opinion cooking on a barbecue has to be slowed down and then there will be fewer burnt exteriors and raw insides. A mechanical device with a rotating spit or a simple lid to keep the heat in would help. Other strategies would be to wrap the food in foil and don't put too much charcoal on the thing. Also cutting a sample to check what the centre of a sausage or burger is like part way through cooking is an option.
When the sun is out you want to have friends round and enjoy the fresh air, so take care with what you feed them.