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Indy Lifestyle Online
THE FRED FLINTSTONE-style steak is becoming a thing of the past, especially at lunchtime, when people prefer something lighter for their barbecue grill.

The National Farmers' Union declared last Sunday "National British Beef Day" and marked the end of the beef export ban by organising a series of barbecues around the country, cooking near-whole animals over open fires in a gesture of defiant atavism. But it will take more than that to turn the trend back towards oozing lumps of red meat.

Tesco may have sold more than 250,000 sausages and 60,000 multipacks of chicken drumsticks last weekend, many destined to face an ordeal by fire, but the trend is towards more "creativity", with vegetables, bread and even fruit placed on the grill to get the attractive striping people have seen on TV cookery shows. All this is accompanied by vibrant sauces and marinades whose origins seem to be Australasian. That's what comes of spending one's youth watching Neighbours and Home and Away.

No cuisine has been untouched by the charms of wood smoke: even the Cordon Bleu cooking handbook includes two pages on barbecues, suggesting you strew the coals with rosemary and fennel for extra fragrance but noting that you shouldn't try it indoors because burning charcoal gives off carbon monoxide.

But some real British traditions endure. The latest thing for people to cook on their barbecues is chicken tikka, fresh from the takeaway tin foil.