An essential tradition in Los Angeles and in California is the bonfire.
Actually I was used to the italian style, well, to the Calabria style. Briefly, what it is supposed to do is to find a peaceful/wild empty beach where almost nobody is sunbathing, around 5 pm, better if close to a forest (or a place full of trees). In the meanwhile that some of the participants are grabbing some (several!) woods (actually whole dead trees sometimes!) in the “forest”, someone else is preparing the hole in the sand, where it is supposed to put the woods and to start the bonfire.
The most traditional food for an Italian Bonfire would be: chips and snacks, meat (beaf, chicken or pork steacks, or ribs), beers, stronger drinks for alcholic games at the end, and, essential element, a guitar (and someone to play that!).
The bonfire starts around 6 pm and ends in the midnight, but sometimes you can be camping there for the night, and, if that is the case, you obviously need all the tools to do that.
In California, as always, everything is easier and totally different. There are specific beachs, as Dockweiler Beach where I went for my bonfire in Los angeles, where you can find cement pire pits where you can put the woods, that you should bring by yourself, to cook your food.
You should reserve the bonfire in advance or go there very early to be sure to grab one in time, or, as some people done with us, you can arrive when you want and try to find someone that wanna share his bonfire with you. The people is equipped with everything possible: camping tends, towels, tables, every possible game (frisbee, balls, rackets…), chips, snacks, hummus, bread (sandwiches), tons of meat (including hamburgers, which are not common in the italian bonfires), cheese, vegetables and several sauces (how could they be living w ithout?!), and… marshmallows!
They start in the morning, cooking and playing, sometimes using barbeque grills in
order to leave the bonfire to a later time. At the end, they start cooking the marshmallows (as you have been watching in the movies for sure!). When the marshmallow is lightly brown all around you can put that in a cookies sandwich together with a piece of chocolate and eat that dirty creation! Enjoy!
The tradition is probably very heterogeneous, so the time for the bonfire to start and end is up to you. We ended at 6 pm since we have started at 12 pm.
So, what are you waiting for? Let’s go planning your first bonfire!!
Nancy for OnesAbroad