Cookouts can vary from the simplicity of throwing a few hamburgers and hotdogs on the grill for an impromptu supper, to a day-long affair with the camaraderie of many family and friends. At any given time the outdoor cookout likely falls somewhere in between resulting in a summertime cooking tradition at once carefree and delicious.
Climate Driven Cookouts
Depending on the climate in certain areas of the world the idea of a long hot summer can also vary, with regional cookouts adapting to local traditions and the length of the season.
In the United States winters in the north are long and summers correspondingly short. Cold climate residents learn to make the most of every opportunity in the warmth and sunshine, with frequent outdoor cooking a perfect activity to make the most of the season. Here you might be treated to brats on the grill, or northern pike or salmon, as well as hamburgers and hotdogs, or the ever popular steak and baked potato.
Along the eastern shore the cookout might come in the form of a clambake or lobster boil as well as traditional grilled foods.
In the west it might be huge slabs of beef marinated and hearty, with native corn and fresh baked bread; or succulent morsels from the bountiful Pacific.
In the Deep South summer heat can be relentless, and sometimes seemingly endless. Cooks in days past would flee the oppressive heat of a kitchen to prepare meals outside. Today, with air conditioning pretty much everywhere cookouts are still popular, for similar reasons of simply enjoying the outdoors and companionship of friends, but also for the economy of keeping the kitchen and overall home environment cooler. Here in addition to more common hamburgers and similar fare you may enjoy a low country boil, a fish fry, baby back ribs on the grill, or even a whole hog buried in coals and roasted. Vegetables fresh from the garden, hushpuppies and home baked breads and desserts round out a sumptuous meal.
Joy of Companionship
Oftentimes a cook in the kitchen is a lonely soul, or at best with a companion chef and both cut off from family and friends while the meal is prepared.
Cookouts put the cooks square in the middle of the frivolity, with guests intermingling around the grill or cooker and all the activity in view or close at hand.
Picnic tables beckon with tantalizing aromas, snacks and appetizers. Family and friends alternate between social conversation and games and the irresistible lure of food and drink.
Mouth Watering Concoctions
While the joy of a cookout depends so much on the interaction of family and friends, the heart of a cookout often centers on favorite foods of many being contributed to a bountiful spread. Homemade breads, cakes and pies, brownies, hand churned ice cream, fresh lemonade or soft drinks, potato salad and baked beans are a few age old favorites. An adult cookout is sometimes enlivened with “spirits” like ice cold beer buried in coolers of ice, frozen daiquiris, or tall and frosty creations perhaps sprigged with mint or cherries.
Ever Growing Popularity of Outdoor Entertaining
Were you to have a birds-eye view of summertime living the world over, you might look down upon tiny grills on high rise balconies, with a short distance away smoke rising from some behemoth of an outdoor grill. And not only are grills popular for most families, but the popularity of cookouts has resulted in complex outdoor kitchens springing up in backyards everywhere. Enterprising cooks often move shop to these little culinary oases boasting refrigerator, sink, and cabinetry housing stove or gas or charcoal grill.
Add in surroundings rich with flowering plants and shade trees, maybe a sparkling pool or water feature, a hammock or relaxing lawn furniture and you have the ultimate in luxury and fun in one’s own back yard.
Surround yourself with the incomparable pleasures of great food and drink and the close connection of family and friends.
What better reasons could there be for summertime cookouts?