Man's view: The hottest thing about men is grilling
Let us get to the meat of the matter. As all the girls know, the best way to judge a sizzling-hot man in summer is by his equipment.Barbecue equipment, that is.What? You were thinking something else? Shame on you. We are talking here about someth...
Let us get to the meat of the matter. As all the girls know, the best way to judge a sizzling-hot man in summer is by his equipment.
Barbecue equipment, that is.
What? You were thinking something else? Shame on you. We are talking here about something as American as apple pie, something that happens before the apple pie arrives.
What happens is that a man - usually a man - goes out and grills something with great gusto. It is that season. As they might say in Indianapolis if a Weber went 200 mph, “Gentlemen, start your grills.”
Of course, ladies can also start their grills - and fair enough. But in this sizzling season I can only report about what my pals and I are doing. We are male bonding with fire, fumes and foaming refreshments.
This has been the custom for countless generations, back through the smoky ages when the hunters returned with a mammoth and placed the sorry beast on a crude bed of logs and stones.
There the men gathered, swapping stories and giving each other advice on how long the meat should be cooked. One would say: “For a mammoth, I advise five hours per pound, which means dinner will be in two moons.”
Another would say: “Is that with the lid up or down?”
“Don’t know,” the first would reply. “Lids haven’t been invented yet.”
Assisted by primitive adult beverages, the conversations went on in this unhelpful manner until a woman - usually a woman, and usually not amused - arrived and told the men to stick on more logs, darn it, because dinner couldn’t wait for even one moon.
The woman would then say as parting encouragement: “Watch the number of adult beverages you cavemen drink or else you’ll screw it all up.” The upshot was that “rare” and “blackened” as terms to describe preparing meat came into the language more or less simultaneously.
Nothing much has changed. Well, actually, the equipment has changed - lids have been invented, along with much else - but the cast of characters is the same.
Ah, nothing beats being outside wreathed in smoke. In the past, an old, grimy grill on wheels served my purpose.
But that has changed since moving to a new address. My new house had a large built-in barbecue grill set magnificently on a veritable altar of bricks and concrete.
On this shining barbecue monster, you could make burnt offerings unto the Lord, roast a moose, or, you know, fire up a kielbasa sausage.
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure-dome decree - and no doubt he had a grill like this bad boy out the back. I could hardly wait to get my forks into it. But something terrible happened. The seller of the house took the built-in barbecue with him.
Did he have some specific-sized gap in bricks he wanted to fill somewhere else? All I knew was that the altar of barbecue now stood desecrated. I vowed that I would restore this monument to grilling, no matter how much money it took, how much time, how much trouble ... if my wife let me.
But I had never bought a grill without wheels. Where to go? Finally, I found a showroom that specialized in built-in grills, but Kubla Khan could not have afforded one. Then one of my pals, Loren, came to my rescue.
Loren had a built-in grill bought on the Internet and I had seen it in action. Why, I had even offered him some customary tips during cooking. The problem was the dimensions of my gaping space did not match the standard grill dimensions.
At Loren’s suggestion, I settled on one that seemed too wide but was wider at the top than the bottom. It might slide in snugly. Might. Maybe.
When the grill arrived, it only weighed about a ton. Another friend, Mike, helped me manhandle it off the pallet. Would it fit? Such tension had not been seen since large ships entered the Panama Canal for the first time. It fit perfectly. Whew!
Since then, it has been like the last days of Pompeii, with five main burners, two separate side burners and an infrared burner playing Vesuvius. Men gather in the smoke and give advice. They are clearly jealous, and I hear them whisper, “He has five burners, you know.”
Every so often, a woman’s voice interrupts the reverie and tells me to take the steaks off this instant before they become ashes. Yes, it is a man’s life, this grilling.
Reg Henry is a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist. Readers may email him at email@example.com .