There are certain pursuits for my fellow dudes that for generations have proved to their significant others that they were indeed the custodial head of their domiciles. They left with fishing rods or a breached shotgun in the crook of their arms and returned hours later with what would become that evening’s dinner.
In far different times than today, the roles of men and women were pretty clearly defined. The former were the hunters and providers, and the latter were the nesters and comforters. However, were I to have lived in those times, I’d have had to find another way to assert myself because I seriously doubt I would have been bringing anything home I snagged on a hook or shot. That’s just not part of the DNA of a guy whose father neither fished nor hunted and counted as his favorite leisurely pursuit plunging a teed ball in the ground and reaching for his driver.
As we approach a classic grilling day, this coming Monday’s Labor Day, the gateway to another month of prime grilling weather, I’ll be asserting my manliness by heading straight to my grill. This is the place where men for generations have stood before open flames. While in many homes the women still rule the kitchen, should you step outside the back door and look in the direction of the grill, there will be men with tongs and a spatula staring down at the grate.
As for my grilling, well, thanks to my beautiful daughters, Shannon and Katie, I’ve got some help with their gift acknowledging my 69th birthday in June, help that will make it a little more likely I can pull something off my grill that’ll make Lady Jane smile.
Both of my daughters are foodies, often discussing their cooking techniques and their results. While I’m certainly not on their level, a source of great satisfaction for me is doing some weekend cooking for Jane that’ll score high on the scrumptious scale.
That means my girls are greatly aided in something adult children have long had some difficulty doing for their parents, buying them a present on a birthday or at Christmas. Listen, when kids are indeed kiddos, gifts for parents are easy because there are absolutely no expectations. A little arts-and-crafts project from school and a construction-paper card always warms a parent’s heart and moistens the corners of the eyes.
While I’d love to return to those pigtail days and something crafted in art class, time indeed is the bandit that steals another 24 hours each and every day. So, the question for many grown children is often difficult to answer, as in “What do we get Dad?” However, for my girls, something food-or-cooking-related is always appreciated.
So, don’t worry, my elder and younger. You scored a perfect 10 with this gift. In addition to a terrific cookout they and their families provided, Shannon and Katie also got dear old Dad a bottle of Andria’s brush-on steak sauce and marinade, some dry rub from Indianapolis’ nationally known steak house St. Elmo and a grilling book, one that stretches to 351 pages, more than I ever thought an author could say about the art of grilling.
Weber’s Ultimate Grilling, by Jamie Purviance, proclaims itself to be “a step by step guide to barbeque genius” and includes 125 recipes, 200 tips and techniques and 750 photos. In reading the author’s short bio on the back cover, I instantly thought Jamie and I would get along fine. Prior to his falling in love with outdoor cooking that, using his words, “put smoke in his veins,” and graduating from The Culinary Institute of America, he was an English teacher, just like this future grill master!
Since I started reading the book right away, I’ve already got a few thoughts that may nudge me a tad closer to grill-master status. Of course, a book of this length is going to take some time to absorb, so it’s doubtful I can get to all 125 recipes before “my fit is over,” but I’m going to try to make some recipe progress in the next few months before the winter winds howl yet again.
I will tell you that I probably could have done without all the color photos of absolute grilling perfection. That’s a lot of pressure on a fella just beginning on the road to attainment of the exalted title of grill master if what I’m pulling off the grids are expected to match those photos!
This month, I’ll be selecting my recipes and heading to the store for my ingredients. To all my fellow current and future grill master tribesmen, let’s hope the barbequing gods continue to be with us, especially on Monday, and the sun continues to shine on our open-flame efforts.
John Grindrod is a regular columnist for The Lima News, a freelance writer and editor and the author of two books. Reach him at email@example.com.