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Mike Redmond Column

Please refer to the Mike Redmond Column main page for columns published in other issues.
Mike can be contacted via e-mail at mike@mikeredmondonline.com.

 

 

 

 Call the Burn Ward! It’s Time to Grill

The weather has turned tolerable, gentlemen, and you know what that means: Time to grill.

Actually, many of us do our share of grilling when the weather is anything but tolerable, but let's face it: There is no real glory in standing by a fire in your parka and mukluks, keeping an eye on a bunch of half-cooked brats, in January. I've had that idea, and you may take it from me that the brats weren't the only things that were half-cooked.

I am, of course, a grill expert. As least, I think I am. All men do. We believe it is encoded in our DNA. The same thing that gives us Adam's apples and hair on our knuckles makes us think that men alone know how to cook a hamburger outdoors. Which is ludicrous, but what the heck, it gets us out of the house and gives us something to do, and keeps our male egos inflated to the recommended PSI.

What grilling really provides for men is a chance to play with fire. Ever since Fireman Friendly came to our second grade classrooms and told us that fire could be dangerous, we've been itching to get our hands on some. And with a grill, we do. Especially if it's a charcoal grill where we get a little sloppy with the starter fluid, although in that event it's not really a case of getting our hands on the fire, but the other way around.

This brings up the greatest debate in grilling today: Which is better - gas or charcoal?

Personally, I prefer charcoal, for a very good reason: That's the kind of grill I have. If I had a gas grill I might feel differently. The important thing is that it should have fire, and lots of it. Flames leaping 10 to 12 feet in the air should suffice. Now, what to grill?

The sky is the limit (see above under: Flames leaping in air). Just about anything tastes better when cooked on a metal grate over an open fire. Except for pancakes. And eggs. And soup.

OK, you can't cook everything on a grill. But you can cook a lot, even tofu, which makes really pretty flames if you keep it on the grill long enough. That is actually the recommended treatment for grilled tofu. The idea is to make sure you don't eat it.

So what, you might ask, is the value of grilling? There are easier, safer ways to prepare a meal (for example, going to a restaurant). Why bother with all the flame and smoke and fire extinguisher foam (which makes a dandy condiment for turkey burgers)?

Ritual, legacy and pride.

It's the ritual of building the fire, preparing the food and then bearing it proudly to the table. It goes back as far as human memory, to the time when our cave-dwelling ancestors built the first backyard decks and then burned them down because they forgot to invent Weber grills between the decks and the fires.

It's following in our fathers' footsteps, right down to the oversized spatulas, goofy hats and "Kiss The Cook" aprons.

And it's the pride you feel when see your friends and family around the table, preparing to dig in to their immolated entrees, and they say, "What happened to your eyebrows?"

Get the burn salve. It's time to grill.

 

 

 

© 2008 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.