Smoking out the neighbours

An Iranian fire pit- see how simple it is https://youtu.be/qAxVKhKj_nU

if you have a pickaxe and shovel along with really understanding neighbours prepared to risk their fence.

I’d woken in the morning to the sound of nearby digging and whispered excitement.  It was the final cooking day of my time in the Australian seaside town of Kiama and I was due to help with an Iranian barbecue feast for the neighbours.

Eddie and his very pregnant wife were the hosts and chief cooks, next door to the home of Ken and Rosemary who had accommodated us.  We’d already visited to take in his home-made pizza oven and barbecue and were now ready to see both in action.  Meanwhile, Rosemary and friend Jill were back in her kitchen creating their salads.

But Eddie stole the day with his fire pit: dug just a couple of feet from the wooden fence between the two houses –as close together as anywhere we’d find in England.  He’d filled it with kindling, logs and even some broken wooden furniture before setting light to it all.  I think our cooking together was his excuse for all the smoke that drifted over the fence!  Once hot, he topped the pyre with a shoulder of lamb, wrapped in damp cloth, fig leaves and cooking foil before another layer of charcoal and a top-dressing of soil.  And there we left it for nearly six hours.

We prepared the kebabs.  But forget the prim bamboo sticks we might use in the UK.  Eddie had an armful of steel swords that were perfect for conducting the heat in to the heart of the thick cylinders of beef and pork we’d moulded on to the blades.

 

The smoky barbecued aubergines went off to become outstanding babaganush as the swords sizzled.

Meanwhile, Lebanese flat breads were cooking and slightly charring in the pizza oven crafted from an old oil drum and the salads and other neighbours arrived.  It was a damp and drizzling day but the weather certainly didn’t interfere with our jolly celebrations.

But I did have to make my excuses for a couple of hours to visit the local Silos Estate winery www.silosestate.com and sample their excellent products with owner, Raj.  All made rather more dramatic as the owner’s wife had been bitten by a tic and needed to get to hospital for it to be removed – a day of dramas!

Returning to the neighbours, it was clear that they too had been imbibing a little too and the jollity had increased.  It was time for the great unveiling as the lamb was carefully dug out of its fiery grave and ceremonially shared between the guests.  It was utterly delicious, succulent and moist – a great way to celebrate our last day before flying to Melbourne.

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