Get out the fire extinguisher Mama, it’s barbecue season

by Ken Carpenter



            The first day of spring is drawing near, and it will be carried away on a cloud of aromatic meat smoke, as it is every year. Barbecue season may not be officially here, but you can bet that very soon the evening will be rare when your nostril radar can’t detect a whiff of flame singed beast in the air.

            Barbecue has had a lofty status since the first Neanderthal chef stumbled across a toasted critter in the aftermath of a lightning spawned forest fire.

            “Yabba dabba doo!” he may have cried when the first morsel passed his lips, and the world’s first rib joint could not have been long in the making.

            The savory art of barbecuing is now a multi-billion dollar business. Grills, sauces, rubs, books, cooking classes, TV shows, implements of all kinds, and MEAT, MEAT, MEAT.

            There are those to whom the word barbecue is holy. You mess with a man’s grilling ceremony and you will risk taking a twenty-dollar double-pronged serving fork to the gullet.

Saints preserve your immortal soul if you dare to share your opinion on the preparation of the sacrificial flesh. Try to restrict the conversation to something less argumentative, like politics or religion.

            I suppose it should be mentioned that some things get barbecued that are not removed from an animal, but they are no threat to the king. You do not buy a $300 gas grill to sear turnips.

            As it is with so many things in today’s world, much of the barbecue business is fueled by competition and envy. If the dude across the street buys a stainless steel, nuclear powered grill big enough to roast a musk ox, it won’t be long before one of his neighbors installs one that can do a hippo. It is just human nature to one up the next guy.

            With all the fancy stuff you can accumulate for barbecuing, there is still nothing that can beat cooking a wiener on a stick over a campfire. Of course if you have an aversion to eating tubular beast lips you may want to choose a less uniform hunk of meat to spear.

            I always liked my hot dogs best when they were burnt black. Naturally the eggheads who try to run our lives have now determined that the black is full of carcinogens, but I am not too worried. I reckon my coffee, peanut butter sandwiches or toothpaste will have given me some other form of cancer long before burnt meat gets a chance to kick in. If you believe everything you hear, the only non-cancerous thing you can put in your mouth is a boiled rock. 

            One handy tidbit to remember during the summer is if you want it to rain, simply move your grill and all of its sidekicks into the middle of your lawn. It will begin to cloud up as soon as everything is packed out from under your patio cover, and before the burgers are cooked the first drops will start falling.

            As usual, all this talk about food has given me an appetite for something I don’t have the inclination or ingredients to fix.

            Come to think of it, toast is just barbecued bread.

            I don’t like my toast black though, so it won’t be quite the same as most of my barbecues.