What is this thing men have for grilling? There are theories based on the premise that most men don’t cook, they only grill. Men who ordinarily wouldn’t be allowed or wouldn’t be caught dead in the kitchen are, at least in this part of the country, magically endowed with the ability to cook simply because it involves fire (electric grills need not apply) and being outdoors (though the backyard is usually a far cry from the wilderness). These theories don’t hold in my case, since I do about 99 44/100ths % of the cooking in my household. Well, they don’t entirely hold in my case, I suppose, since I do like the simplified cleanup. But compared to a gas range, getting a charcoal grill going is a bit of an ordeal, so it’s not all about convenience. Nor is it about what I tell my girls, that is “if the fire isn’t big enough to see from space, it just isn’t big enough.”
(photo credit: Jennifer May for The New York Times)
That I enjoy cooking as well as grilling puts me outside the conventional wisdom, but at least some of my reasons are the same as other men. Beyond that, I really like the flavor a charcoal fire imparts, especially when I use hardwood lump charcoal instead of molded briquettes (though I confess I use those most of the time), and I don’t mind the smoke (this time of year, it helps keep the black flies down). Cooking over a wood fire is something I haven’t had much opportunity to do, and a conventional charcoal grill isn’t well suited to it, but since this weekend is the unofficial kick-off to summer, I may just have to try it. After all, how can you possibly pass up the chance for “A Perfect Steak”?