Tuesday, August 17, 2010

At the BBQ

Reflecting (Self-Portrait) by Ken Danby

Two of my husband's cousins have summer BBQs. We often miss the August one since we're usually away on vacation at that time, but this year we went to both (our only vacation having been those few quiet days on Christian Island).

My husband has a fairly large contingent of cousins here. He was brought up in another province and in a very different environment. The local family is made up of good, decent people, but neither hubby nor I have much in common with them. We do go to at least one BBQ a year, though.

So there we were yesterday at summer BBQ number 2. There was lots of beer, wine and Pepsi. I'm the designated driver and not a big drinker to begin with so I had a small half-glass of wine and a lot of water. I admit that if there had been any diet pop there, I would have had one. I didn't feel like wasting my time on a regular Pepsi.

I was shocked to see that no raw veggies were served, just chips and a mix of pretzels and Cheezies. I ate too many. The BBQ consisted of store-bought burgers and hot dogs, fresh corn, a pasta salad with 2-3 little pieces of broccoli and a cauliflower salad, drenched in some kind of nameless dressing. There were some lovely home-made butter tarts, white cupcakes with chocolate icing and fresh fruit for dessert. Hubby and I were the ones who brought the fruit. Are you surprised?

One of the cousins, a quiet but sweet fellow in his 30s who was doing BBQ duty, shyly asked me if I was doing a low-carb or gluten-free diet since I had passed on the burger bun. I answered no, that I just felt I didn't need the bun after all those munchies. He then (again rather shyly) volunteered that he had started feeling bloated after eating bread and was wondering about cutting back on gluten products. I encouraged him to do so if it made him feel better.

One of the other people at the BBQ was a young man in his 20s whom I hadn't seen since he was about 10 years old. He had been quite an overweight child and he is now very, very obese. Of course, I couldn't help watching what he was eating. Actually, he didn't seem to be stuffing himself at all, though I'm not sure how many beers he downed. He was also smoking. It made me really sad. And I was all the more saddened when I realized what a talented artist he is. My husband's relatives--bless their souls--are just as intelligent as anyone else, but not a very intellectual or artistic lot. And here was this one cousin (actually the stepson of an older cousin) who is actually bursting with talent. He showed me some of his drawings, which reminded me of the work of the internationally renowned artist, Ken Danby. I gave him my e-mail and told him that I really want to get an invitation to his next show.

The BBQ was a bit of an eye-opener both from a culinary and a "knowing the family" point of view.

If we go back for the next August BBQ, I'll be sure to bring a plate of raw veggies and I hope to see the artistic cousin again. There's something going on in that young man's life that's helping to make him so big. Unfortunately, I really don't know him well enough to ask any personal questions (although I am aware of certain serious problems in his childhood). I can only hope that he will be able to blossom through his art and perhaps be able to shed a bit of the protective shell he seems to be hiding in.


  1. I always feel a little judgmental if I watch what people it and, sometimes, how they eat it. It doesn't stop me and I can't help it. They don't sell arugula at Chuck E.Cheese. "A pasta salad with 2-3 little pieces of broccoli" ... says it all. I'm not surprised you brought the fruit.

  2. I am often the one to bring the fruit or salad or crudites to a party, and it's generally the only non-meat/processed grain there. And I may get teased for it, but it always disappears almost immediately.

  3. I am always the one that brings the "weird" dishes to family get togethers too. Like my carrot salad, or sweet potato soup. And like justjuliebean said, I get teased for it, but there are never any leftovers!
    I am always watching what other people eat, especially my relatives, most of whom are overweight/obese. I just can't help it. It's not so much that I'm judgeing but rather that I am looking for answers.

  4. I'm a big people-watcher in all kinds of circumstances, and I actually find that almost everyone eats crazy at things like BBQs - it's one of the reasons I don't buy into "emotional eating" as an excuse for being overweight - every skinny person I know also eats emotionally from time to time, so I don't think it explains very much (at least not for me).

    I do like to observe people at events like this - you learn a lot.

    For several years now my go-to party food to bring or provide has been the veggie platter which is always appreciated (and in France it's rare but loved, especially if you bring some dips with it). My memory in the US is that they were everywhere - I too would be surprised if a BBQ didnt have one!