The Traditional American BBQ compared to British Grilling

I have had the pleasure of participating in BBQing in both the U.S and U.K. And as is becoming a theme on this blog, they are very very different. Let us start first with an analysis of the American followed by the British grilling experience. This is on my mind because Saturday is the all important 4th of July (always the biggest BBQ of the year in the U.S) and I happen to be going to a British BBQ tonight

image taken from

As everyone worldwide knows (and often mocks) America is a country that has food as an integral part of the culture. This could be why it is the fattest country. I think that food is so saturated into the culture because it is a country of a melting pot of nationalities and backgrounds, we don’t all share a history or religion to unite us, but we can all share food. And we do that a lot! So at American BBQ, there is always an overabundance of food. The burger and hot dog are obviously the main attraction but if you have less than 3 optional sides to go with it, then the bbq is considered somewhat small….and who wants that? I can remember as a kid going to backyard bbq parties in the summer that had entire tables full of salads, chips/crisps (minimum of 3 different types), desserts and drinks. The grill was almost secondary in my mind because I had so many other things to eat. The side dishes offered in America are also quite different to the UK. In America we enjoy fruit salad, potato salad, devilled eggs, pasta salad, chicken salad, and all of these things are as packed with fat as possible. At my first British BBQ I made both the American fruit salad and deviled eggs. It shocked my friends that my fruit salad contained whip cream, yogurt and marshmallows. In their mind, a fruit salad should only have fruit. They thought it was a dessert (how very wrong they were).

While in America we have more options and food than anyone attending could possible eat, it is quite different in the UK. For one thing, everyone brought their own meat! Usually the host provides the meat and the guests provide sides in America.Side dishes weren’t even thought of. Sure, a few people brought bags of chips/crisps. But there was no potato salad, no pasta salad, none of the traditional sides you would see in an American BBQ. My boyfriend explained that in England, the BBQ was all about the meat, and that is all you ate. I found it highly unappealing. I always have to have a side to a main dish otherwise my OCD/ED tendencies tend to go a little wonky.
Due to the focus on meat, I think that it is more appropriate to call the British experience “grilling” rather than a barbeque. The entire focus is on the grill and the meat it produces, rather than it being a whole edible experience like in the U.S

Naturally, I prefer the American BBQ. I like having multiple side dishes and one piece of meat. This could be because I grew up in America, or I’m just not that massive of a meat eater. Either way, I look forward to my next bbq on U.S soil because it will be up to my gluttonous standards.

Just for fun I am attaching some American BBQ recipes, hopefully I will start seeing them at British grilling!!
Marshmallow fruit salad:
Devilled Egg recipe:
Loaded Baked Potato Salad:
Hush puppies (just reading these recipes make me miss the U.S):
FINALLY American style Baked Beans:

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