The boys have been trained well and, as we head towards summer, are already asking to dine en plein air. Not that I would use such a pretentious foreign phrase in conversation, much less attribute it to my children; but I must say I do prefer the French version to the cliched al fresco, even though the former refers more correctly to painting.
I relented and we ate outside despite several very good objections to the plan, including having no table to sit at and no barbecue coals. The first drawback was fixed by a blanket on the lawn and the second by cooking inside. (The table problem was caused by a very cheap outdoor table purchased from Bunnings cracking after one summer. Perhaps you're supposed to store outdoor tables inside to stop UV damage. To replace it, I'm looking for a cheap old op-shop table instead of wasting more money on plastic that falls apart.)
I sliced four red-eye potatoes and fried the slices in a mixture of ghee and oil. These were presented piled high in a large bowl. I slice them very thinly so they are a kind of cross between hot chips and crisps and are always a great success. They were accompanied by some leftover Lebanese bread that I toasted with some zatar and a bowl of yogurt mixed through with finely chopped cucumber and onion - instant dip. Then sausages cooked the way they should be - boiled intially, then halved lengthways and finished cut side down in the pan. Delicious, and you avoid burning them. Dessert was vanilla icecream with maple syrup, a simple dish that is an outdoor treat.
It must have been seven o'clock and getting dark. It was still warm. We sat on the blanket except for baby, who is off in all directions now, and the boys finished their ice cream. William looked at me. "Daddy," he declared, "this barbecue has been a complete failure." Why was that, I asked. "You cooked the food inside," he replied, calmly. "So it can't be a barbecue. And we are sitting on the ground. You do that at picnics." Case rested. Thomas nodded in silent agreement. Their mother retrieved the baby, limbs still pawing the air like a picked-up beetle, from under the grapefruit tree, and failed to suppress a laugh.
They boys had seemed to enjoy the food however. The potatoes, in particular, had disappeared in seconds.