A barbecue - charcoal or gas - is nothing more than a fire and a wire rack. It's just a heat source. That's it. And anything you would normally cook under a grill, in the oven or even things you'd do on the hob, can be cooked on a barbecue. All the flash gadgetry of a top-of-the-range gas barbecue is designed to make the heat more controllable, but you can achieve great results on the cheapest bucket barbie if you have a think about what you're doing.
Come back with me, if you will, to Mrs Hitchen's Home Economics class in the early 1980s. What we learnt there was that cooking uses heat in three ways: radiation, convection and conduction. The first of these is the most used in barbecue cooking: the last is the least used. Radiation cooks just one side of the food at a time by placing it near (usually under or over) a fierce heat source. Convection depends on the food being enclosed in a hot environment, where heated air, moving around the food, cooks it from all sides. Conduction works by heat passing through a liquid in a container that's in direct contact with the heat source.
|tuna, not quite there yet|
Because cooking over fire is less controllable than a kitchen stove, it's important to make sure your food is cooked thoroughly before you serve it. The fierce heat involved in fire-cooking can give food a deceptively charred exterior. A probe thermometer costs less than £10 and it will give you confidence to cook and serve all kinds of fish and meat without worrying how cooked it is inside. You can find details of safe, internal cooking temperatures for meat and fish on various internet sites. Here's one from Heston Blumenthal's barbecues site: https://www.everdurebyheston.co.uk/cooking_tips_details/all/internal_cooking_temperatures
http://blog.theaperitifguy.co.uk/2020/07/summer-wine.html ). I'm not a fan of heavy reds in the summer, so even with grilled beef I'd still serve a youngish pinot noir or a Chianti. There are some exciting craft beers around at the moment, and they make excellent companions to fattier foods like sausages or pork belly. If your food has more spice about it, try something a touch sweeter, like a malty bitter or an amber ale. Or Pimms & lemonade - why not?
Next time: Italian ideas for Ferragosto