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The Globe and Mail

Even Michelle Obama can't escape salad duty at the backyard BBQ

First Lady Michelle Obama, left, and Samantha Cameron, wife of British Prime Minister David Cameron, wait to serve lunch to U.S. and British military service members, veterans and family members in a courtyard at 10 Downing Street in London May 25, 2011.

LARRY DOWNING/Larry Downing/Reuters

She may not be a traditional First Lady, but even Michelle Obama can't dodge being relegated to salad duty at a backyard BBQ, while her husband chortles with the British PM and flips burgers. Or, should we say, "mans" the grill, as the press put it.

Ms. Obama looks none to happy about it, either, and we don't blame her.

Hand them a beer and ditch the ties, and President Barack Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron would look like just about any pair of North American fathers, trading jokes ( bad jokes, that is) and tall tales while someone else (and we know who that is) sets the picnic tables, preps the side dishes and keeps the kids in line. (After all, we wouldn't want them getting burned by getting too close to the grill, now would we?)

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Why it is, that the stove (with some exceptions), remains a largely female domain (at best, shared), but the barbecue is the place of men? Sociologists might point to an evolutionary link, harkening back to the days of old when food was cooked over a fire. A cynic might argue that it's a clever ploy to get to stand around, with the cooler close at hand, while the other half of the party navigates the dishes through the screen door. Because we all know who much fun it is to chop tomatoes and cucumbers on a hot day.

Maybe this should be the summer's great Canadian BBQ challenge: Pry the guys away from the grill and give them the salad tongs.

Then women will know that - in the backyard, at least - we'll have achieved equality.

So, just who does the grilling at your house?

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