All over the world, in every culture, you can find some version or another of meat grilled over fire/wood/coals, but there's no denying that Australia is particularly crazy about it and we'll find any excuse to throw something on the barbie.
With Australia Day just around the corner, it's high time to get prepping, marinating and grilling, and gather the fam' and friends around for a summer celebration: A dinner and a movie.
French actor-director Julie Delpy's semi-autobiographical Skylab perfectly captures these moments spent with people with whom you might not have much in common, yet whom you love dearly, share bad jokes and fight about politics over copious amounts of food and, in some cases, alcohol.
Set in the late '70s, Skylab is Delpy's love letter to her family, as she takes a trip down nostalgia lane to revisit her childhood. Delpy plays her bohemian mother, while her young self is represented by the bestacled, 10-year-old Albertine. The precocious and insecure young girl is worried about the news that the Skylab space station might be about to fall over their heads in Brittany, which precisely where she and her street artists parents are headed, to join the rest of the extended family at the matriarch's house for the summer.
The rest of the family is not worried one bit however, and starts the holiday with the traditional "mechoui" – a freshly killed lamb from the farm roasted on a spit – while the kids are amusing themselves by throwing the poor sheep's innards at each other in the nearby barn.
Like in a lot of cultures, barbecueing is considered a serious affair by men, who like to see themselves as the masters of the fire, manning the grill and hacking the beast in cutlets for the family. (Look at this beautiful effort face by actor Denis Ménochet, above.)
The whole movie goes on to follow this disparate group of people over dinners (most interrupted by Brittany's famous showers), at the beach (complete with friendly nudists), at the local disco (having a blast on "Born to be alive"♫), and is sure to provoke in you a longing for your childhood holidays. The kids, especially the surly teenager played by a hilarious Vincent Lacoste (star of The French Kissers and Delpy's upcoming comedy Lolo), are a joy to watch.
It's the perfect movie to help you relax once all your guests have departed, with a chilled glass of rosé and a plate of "mechoui" and couscous leftovers. And we're here to help you make it happen, with a link to watch the movie, and a recipe for mastering mechoui.
The mechoui, which originates from North Africa, is now completely ingrained in France's dining habits and is the ideal centrepiece for big family gatherings in summer. It usually consists in a whole lamb roasted for hours, but this recipe from our friends overs at SBS Food offers a more manageable alternative in the shape of a lamb shoulder that you can make in the oven. Don't forget to plan ahead as it still requires 8 hours of cooking, but the melt-in-the-mouth result is well worth it.
Watch Skylab at SBS On Demand now
Find this recipe at SBS Food