Outdoor grilling is an American institution. Utah's no exception. It's a rare summer weekend that you don't find grill smoke wafting up from half the backyards in the neighborhood.
Ahhhh, the smell of charcoal and grilled meat. The true sign that summer has arrived.
It's interesting to me that the outdoor grilling is associated with men, more than women. It's almost like our wives and mothers have said, “The kitchen is mine so, if you want to cook, you'll have to go outside.” It reminds me of when I was a kid. “John, stop watching TV and go outside.” It seems like the women in our lives can't stand to have us in the house. Maybe they think we'll set the kitchen on fire.
The irony is that professional cooking is dominated by men. I take that to mean that as long as we're make money, it's okay for us to be in the kitchen.
I'm not going any farther with that. My wife has a wicked backhand.
Grilling may appeal to men because of the association with the primitive. There's just something about playing with fire and eating meat that makes us happy.
Grilling let's us be competitive, too. Don't kid yourself. The title of “Best Grill Master on the Block” may not come with an awards ceremony but, we all compete for it. The reason we don't talk about it openly is because we're all afraid we aren't the grill masters we pretend we are.
Ladies? If you want to emotionally devastate your man, just tell him the neighbor grills better steaks than he does. Please don't do it. Just smile and nod while you're trying to choke down that latest burnt offering. He may not thank you openly but, it's better than the alternative.
The other aspect of grill competition is the fight over “charcoal vs. gas.” Charcoal seems to offer more control over at least one thing. You can keep one side of the grill hotter than the other. It also seems to be easier with a charcoal fire to add hickory chips or some other wood to give the food great smoky flavor.
Then again, lighting the coals, waiting for them to get to the right temperature, and then cleaning up later, seems like a lot more time and work. Gas grills make all that easier. Just plug in the hose and fire it up. I suspect that it doesn't pollute the atmosphere as much, either. I'm not 100% sure about that one, though.
The charcoal side thinks the gas side is a bunch of pansies who haven't mastered fire. The gas guys don't do “real” grilling, they say. On the other hand, the gas side thinks the charcoal side is a bunch of filthy Neanderthals who can't seem to embrace new, cleaner, technology. I think they're both right.
Be that as it may, I currently favor gas. My wife threw out our old portable gas grill (why? WHY?) so I'm going to have to get a new one in the next day or two. I don't know. Maybe I'll try charcoal and learn to embrace my inner Neanderthal, instead.
I once made the mistake of talking to my wife about the whole Neanderthal charcoal vs. modern gas thing. She told me not to worry about it. I was a gassy Neanderthal. I don't think she's talking about the grill. Maybe that's the real reason women send us outside.