It's a great Aussie mystery why do men hang around the barbie? Are they really just Neanderthals at heart?
Michael Slater heads off to a typical Australian barbecue with a few of his mates. The mission? To answer the question of why blokes hang around the barbecue with the meat while the girls are in the kitchen preparing the salad.
These guys haven't been told about the experiment but we're betting they'll fall right into line with the stereotype.
"So who's going to be preparing the salad today?" Michael asks the group. "Is that you mate?" He asks one of the blokes.
"Certainly not, that's the ladies' job."
So far so good, which means the meat will be cooked by the man of house.
More than 70 percent of Australian homes have a barbecue half a million new ones are sold every year.
But why do we stick to the same old script? One theory is it all dates back to the cavemen. The blokes hunted and cooked the meat, while the women looked after the babies.
But are we still nursing our inner Neanderthal?
Professor Mark Feldman is a professor of biological sciences at Stanford University.
"Looking after offspring was a key factor in the diversification of the roles because if there were no offspring to look after then there would be no reason in principle why females couldn't hunt as well," he says.
According to Professor Colin Groves, at the Australian National University, control of the food and the fire was all about power.
"Because the possessor of the meat, the source of the prestige food, is the one who's going to impress females," says Professor Groves.
Nowadays, the power to impress lies in the tongs. When Michael takes them from the host Dave, it's a fast comeback to the barbecue by Dave. Not only did he take back the power, he did it with bigger tongs!
Well, dinner's served and it's time Michael served up the truth about our little experiment.
"I will tell you why we've been here today and it was simply to see if this was going to be a typical Australian barbecue and that is exactly what has happened today," says Michael.
No one's upset about our little experiment, in fact, they're all quite happy about the way it's turned out.
"I don't want to know what they're talking about, they can just drink their beer and talk whatever they want and us girls can stay in the kitchen," says one of the women.
"There's tradition and just something inside the guys like to be in control of the fire, the barbecue, they've got the big hunks of steak and the guys like to do it," says one of the men.
So it's true. There is evolutionary, genetic and sociological evidence that can back up why men hang around the barbecue and women are in the kitchen preparing the salads. It is part of an ancient ritual performed by our prehistoric ancestors and carried on even today.
Everyone in our experiment seems to be happy with the arrangement, but why?
It's back to the experts.
"We have looked at our parents and the parents of our peers as we developed through childhood and seen what people are expected to do and those expectations are translated later on into our actions," says Professor Feldman.
While Professor Groves says "it's what's known as the naturalistic fallacy the idea that behaviour is set in stone and it's right that we behave the way evolution has made us behave. We can change it."
There you have it, men started to hog the barbie way back in the cave and the simple fact is the tradition's been handed down ever since.
"We came, we saw, we conquered and it wasn't that hard at all because the scenes we witnessed today have been playing out since the dawn of civilisation," says Michael.
And it looks like it'll stay that way for another few millennia anyway.
- Almost as traditional as the barbecue itself is finding greasy crud left over from last time. Can't be good for you right? It contains bacteria and other nasties, but the good news is you can kill them by getting the grill hot enough to make water sizzle.
- Better yet, scrape and clean with a non-caustic cleaner after use, and when it's cooled down, a burst of non-stick cooking spray will stop your barbie going rusty.