Our first vegan barbecue | BBC Radio Solent's Alun Newman

You could argue that it’s either a sign of success or quite possibly a lack of creativity but for many of us we have food ‘on repeat’.

Monday, 26th July 2021, 6:32 pm
A family barbecue like this might soon be a memory for the Newmans. Picture: Shutterstock

Food on repeat for me is when you start to forget when you last had spaghetti Bolognese or any tinned tomato-based evening meal.

You have forgotten because it could be any week in the past 10 years (or more – in fact, since I was 19 years old and started living away from home).

Yes, I fully appreciate that you’re not allowed to moan about this.

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Complaining was forbidden in my family when I was growing up.

You daren’t frown at a nondescript slither of white fish ominously draped over some brown rice or sigh when a casserole (the re-branded more delicious but exactly the same as ‘stew') was placed in front of you.

Any complaint about the food being served was met with the unsurprising news that you were spoilt, some people had nothing, you should be thankful.

If you don’t like it then you can cook tomorrow and buy the ingredients.

It was swift and decisive parental action.

All this I agree with and echo across my own family dinner table.

However, food on repeat can be a challenge whether you want to look at the issue or not.

I was recently challenged by my own team over this very point.

My daughter started the rumbling with some subtle comments. She questioned whether anyone else was fed up with chicken!

Just imagine such a thought. the most popular animal on the planet and concerns were being raised (chicken consumption statistics are extraordinary).

I did my best to quash the uprising but the revolution was already afoot and gathering pace.

Others then started to chime in with long lists of family staples and claims of mental trauma.

I was told that some foods can never be enjoyed again.

Strong complaints from those who don’t financially contribute, I might add.

Before long we were on the repetitive nature of my barbecues. I love to barbecue. Any opportunity and I’ll barbecue so this was a very personal body blow.

After I had come down from the emotional high of a dad mood (‘I’m fine,’ – I sniffed in a far higher-pitched voice than usual), I decided I would tackle the challenge head-on.

So I’m writing this column now after what turned out to be our family's very first vegan barbecue.

Yes, we had plant-based pea protein patties with pockets of ‘just-like-cheese’ hidden inside.

We had tube-shaped soya that looked and smelled like a sausage.

My wife went crazy and blitzed a cauliflower into grains and then steamed it for an alternative to mashed potato (we would never normally have mash with a barbie but, hey, we were out of the box, we were pushing the envelope, we were free-thinking).

The mayo looked like mayo but because you knew it wasn’t mayo it was impossible to taste like actual mayonnaise.

The hummus was the same and so was the tomato sauce (relief).

In summary, it was a complete personal triumph.

I thought the burgers were great, so much so I ate my daughter’s and half of my son’s as well.

There were plenty of not-sausages left for sandwiches the following day should anyone feel peckish.

The spare mash could be used later in the week for a pie for a now-unemployed shepherd.

The mayo would be mixed in with the other mayo as there’s no point in having two jars in the fridge.

The food actually wasn’t that bad. It makes for a nice change if your food is on repeat. It gives the chicken a well-earned break.

It’s also good for crushing any revolutions.


Do you ever know that a gadget is pointless yet at the same time think it’s so impressive you must have it?

Let me give you an example. For me, most have something to do with technology.

The tech company LG has launched what I think is the first bendable 48in OLED TV. You can bend it into a curve for gaming or straighten it out for a movie. It is incredible.

I didn’t know I wanted one till I saw it. I still don’t know what I want it for? As an ex-mechanic (motor vehicle technician if you don’t mind) I‘ve always loved cars. I happened to see the first reviews of the new all-electric Mercedes S Class.

It has more toys, gadgets and lights than Christmas at Hamleys. Sure, it’s still massive and you’d need the confidence of Conan the Barbarian to take it into a multi-storey car park.

But there’s a gadget on this car… when you get in its facial recognition system knows it’s you and adjusts the seat, temperature, headrest, steering wheel, radio, to your preferred settings. And get this, when you look at a wing mirror while driving, the car knows you’re looking at that mirror! You can then adjust it without having to flick that little switch to choose which side. The wing mirror knows it’s being looked at.

These cars are expensive and I have decided to keep my £1,000, rather tired Mini, save the imaginary £80,000+ and adjust my own wing mirrors while pretending they know it’s me.

But, now I know some people are no longer flicking the little switch. I’d like to be in their car.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron.

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