Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Grilling as an Exercise in Multiculturalism

In grilling, as in any activity, a sense of proportion and balance is important.

Balance between a fire that's too hot and one that's not hot enough.

Balance between leaving a burger with a frozen core, and creating a burger briquette.

Balance between regarding the grilling of hamburger patties as a mere heating of meat, and contemplating the metaphysics of existential phenomena.

On June 10 of last year, I nearly incinerated one side of a hamburger patty. That part of the cosmos, which had been a hamburger patty, was out of balance.

Observing a brief moment of silence, contemplating the burger briquette, I forged ahead and saw that day's grilling through to the end.

As I recall, my wife let me have the burned burger. I like burgers ultra-crisp.

Later, recognizing that in a global culture there are many ways of dealing with such unexpected events as a burger's evolution from meat patty to charred mini-discus, I pondered how I might at once celebrate a multi-cultural perspective, contemplate a burned hamburger as a metaphor for life, and have some fun.

Here's what I came up with:

While Grilling on a Weekend

Flipping one too late,
I see darkness on a burger's bottom:
grilled not wisely, but too well

The Most Important Grilling Tool: Common Sense

Some excellent advice for the outdoor griller:
  • Grill outside - carbon monoxide is bad for your health
  • Find what you need to light the fire before turning on the gas
  • If your LP gas cylinder doesn't have an OPD (Overfilling Prevention Device), get a new cylinder
  • If your LP gas cylinder is dented, rusty, or cracked, get a new cylinder
  • When you're through grilling, shut the LP gas cylinder's valve
    (Don't overdo it: apply as much pressure as you would with a water faucet)
  • Don't overfill: if the cylinder is rated as a 20 pound cylinder, it holds 20 pouds
  • When lighting the grill, leave the top open - that prevents gas buildup and 'flash' that can be dramatic but unpleasant
So far, I've given common sense safety tips. Now, in the spirit of stupid safety signs, here is advice for those who need warnings like "Caution! Coffee May Be Hot!" on their coffee cups.
  • Do not hold your face over the grill when lighting the fire
  • Do not sit on a lighted grill
  • Do not use a filled LP gas cylinder as a beach ball
  • Do not attempt to use an LP gas cylinder as a cigarette lighter
  • Do not use an LP gas cylinder as a bug bomb
  • Do not use liquid propane as a cleaning agent
  • Remember: a spatula is not a dental hygiene tool
Seriously, be sensible, treat LP gas with respect, and have fun grilling.

Monday, July 30, 2007

From Marshmallow Incinerator to Outdoor Griller

Or, A Griller is Born
Or, Where There's Smoke, There's Fire: and a Well-Grilled Burger

Aside from the occasional hamburger flambé and incinerated marshmallow, grilling was not a part of my formative years. So my wife was surprised that, when we finally got an outdoor grill, the challenge was not so much inducing me to prepare the occasional meal, as keeping me inside during severe weather warnings.

My family and I got along without a grill for many years. At first, it was an out-of-reach luxury. Our budget dictated a bargain priced apartment. There wasn't room in either for an outdoor grill.

Later, our sense of fiscal responsibility got in the way. A grill, even a small one, is not cheap. And, there was always something that we needed more. There still is, but that's a whole different topic.

One day, for reasons which I still do not fully understand, my wife decided that it was time for the family to relive her memories of hamburgers grilled in the back yard. We took a look at what was available locally, and purchased what looked like a good starter grill.

I remember my early days of grilling when, user's manual nearby, I first opened the valve and ignited the escaping gas. Hearing a soft "foof" and not singeing a single hair on my hand was a satisfying experience. Then, placing hamburger patties on metal frame and carefully timing their exposure on each side, I removed meaty disks which not only recognizable, but fit for human consumption.

In fact, the hamburgers tasted pretty good. That was the start of my life as a year-round weekend griller.

With a little practice, I learned how to grill burgers with brown-verging-on-black outsides, brown insides, and that grilled taste that only comes from hood-down grilling on a veteran grill.

Preparing food that occasionally transcends such concepts as "edible" and soars into the realms of "tasty" or even "delicious" still fills me with a warm glow.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Easy Griller Starts Medium-Well

I've enjoyed grilling for years. Not as a gourmet griller, one of those fellows with racks of seasonings and digital rotisseries.

I like to grill hamburgers or hamburgers and a hot dog on the weekends, with the occasional chicken.

Although simple grilling will probably always be my favorite, sooner or later I'll try something more exotic, like grilled corn.