We’re well into grilling season, when every weekend without rain is an invitation to go out into the heat and cook over a something even hotter. In terms of the process’ physical comfort (or frequent lack of it), the argument can be made that the compulsion defies reason. It is a sort of genetic imperative, though, which has provided sustenance to our species for thousands of years – and entertainment to modern man for the past few decades. For the post-millennial griller, the appeal is both the process and the result: the contained, socially acceptable pyromania, the tinkering with equipment and powders and sauces, the smoky, often spice-rubbed flavors of foods off the grill. It’s a style of cooking that’s accessible to a spectrum of abilities, in which even the minimally skilled can produce impressive results without a lot of folderol simply by paying attention and getting the food off the heat at the appropriate time.
Whether you are a dabbler or a devotee, one online grilling resource that deserves a bookmark is The Barbecue! Bible Website. Chef and author Steven Raichlen has made barbecue into a cottage industry, not to mention the focus of a shelf of books, a television series, and grilling classes, the last two of which under the name Barbecue University. The site stockpiles such basic teachings as Raichlen’s 10 Commandments (from “Be Organized” to “Never Desert Your Post”), the Grill Guru’s Mantra a/k/a three essential rules, and the Art of Smoking. Besides the technique and recipes archives, the site hosts a comprehensive online forum. The purpose has expanded from merely fielding cries for help to also discussing Raichlen’s works, trading leads on barbecue joints, and sponsoring contests. The original purpose is still the main one, though, with more than 7500 topics (not posts – those exceed 77,000) in the General Discussion folder alone. There’s a lot of chatter, but scroll through the topics and plenty of meat will reveal itself. Time was when Raichlen manned the board by himself; seven additional moderators are now working at the forum.
Food is a favorite topic among standup comedians, but few pursued it with such devotion and originality as the late observational comic Mitch Hedberg. His food commentary ran to the humble, such as waffles (“like pancakes with syrup traps”) or as might come out of a spray can or vending machine; his Website contains, without explanation or elaboration, a recipe for a Reuben sandwich. One of his desires was cinnamon roll incense, because he liked cinnamon rolls but didn’t “always have time to make a pan.” One of his legacies is that dream come true. His site sells thirteen sticks of cinnamon incense for $13, shipping included (and payment only by PayPal).)
Copyright 2006 Kathy Biehl. All Rights Reserved.