The Not-So Starving Student—How to Host a Healthy Backyard Barbecue

The Not-So Starving Student—How to Host a Healthy Backyard Barbecue

Every year I host a backyard barbecue for my family, but this year I had to enjoy the entire feast myself. For those who are working or studying from home, backyard barbecues are usually a great way to enjoy the company of your loved ones.  And with the current loosening of public health quarantine measures, AU students and their loved ones may be able to take some time to delight in the good weather in the comfort of their backyards.

But it’s still not business as usual, and as soon as I realized that this year’s annual barbecue would look significantly different than last year’s, I created some handy adjustments that can help us to host events that stay healthy.

Wear gloves when cooking to prevent transmission of pathogens

Not only is this tip handy for grocery shopping but cooking with single-use gloves helped me to ensure I was not transmitting any fomites. Fomites are objects or materials that may carry infection such as droplets of virus or bacteria on our hands. Furthermore, I found that the grease that typically splatters over your hands while grilling was no longer an issue.

Practicing public health recommendations of staying at least two meters or six feet apart from dinner guests

This is particularly important despite the recent easing of public health measures. On the lawn, we sat in a circle whereby each member stayed at least two meters away from other guests. Despite the distance, my guests found that they enjoyed the ability to feel safe while also being in the presence of others. Sitting in a circle also helped my guests to feel more intimate as if in a sharing circle that brought them back to their childhood days.

Keeping the annual barbecue to only five members (two of whom are housemates)

Keeping a small number of people at this gathering helps lower the risk of transmission. Given that many of my family members stayed at home during the quarantine in the past month, it gave each of us an assurance that the risk of transmission was lowered, albeit not eliminated. This has always been a personal struggle for me because keeping the gathering small meant that I had to narrow down my picks for individuals to invite. However, at the same time, I found that the smaller gatherings made guests feel more intimate and welcome.

Ensuring only one person handles the food

This task can be a challenge—especially when multiple members of my family are usually engaged in grilling and seasoning the food. In my family, barbecues are a communal event where each member actively contributes to the food preparation. However, this year, we had to make some slight changes. Particularly, I was the sole individual grilling and seasoning our meal. The change was at first puzzling to my mother who is accustomed to being the micromanaging head chef in the kitchen. But the changes also made us realize that it can be significantly more efficient to have just a single cook in the kitchen. Better still, less collaboration also meant less conflicts on the topic of cooking techniques.

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