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My (almost successful) foray into charcoal grilling

Published: Thursday, June 20, 2013 11:51 a.m. CDT

(Continued from Page 1)

A few tips about charcoal grills.

Never cook unattended next to vinyl siding. Never light a charcoal grill with a cigarette lighter, especially if you like to use as much lighter fluid as I do, which is a majority of the bottle. When you have longish hair, always wear a hat when standing right over the top of the grill. The smell of human hair burning is off-putting and outrageously unappetizing.

I know what you must be thinking. Isn’t lighting large residential fire a violation of my parole? I don’t know, probably not. But I tried charcoal grilling for the first time recently and really enjoyed it — after my first four attempts.

Normally I can’t cook. I blame society. Everybody else does. Unless it’s a frozen pizza, I can’t even use an oven, nor should I be trusted or allowed to. I can’t even cook easy stuff. I screw up everything from scrambled eggs to macaroni and cheese. I know five-year-old children with Easy-Bake Ovens that can cook circles around me.

Frozen pizzas notwithstanding, the only other time I use my oven is when I need reminded of some important detail in my life. My oven’s countdown timer is second to none. I use the oven timer because the incessant alarm — beep, beep, beep! — can be heard when I’m upstairs or outside in the backyard mowing the grass.

The beeping sound is annoying and sounds similar to a smoke detector chirping, which is what my smoke detector would be doing if I was using my oven for its intended purpose. There are a lot of time-sensitive matters in my life that my oven timer refreshes my recollection of, like when professional wrestling is on my television.

So my oven is more like a washing-machine-sized egg timer and less like a cooking appliance to me. I know I should just go out and buy a watch (or for that matter an egg timer), but I’m becoming crotchety and stuck in my ways.

Men are unfairly portrayed in made-for-TV movies and sitcoms as being chauvinistic grill sergeants who take pride in their talent with open fire, flammable liquids and raw meat. It got me wondering how the stereotype even began. What about cooking over a grill, as opposed to an oven, attracts men to it like a moth to a flame?

The answer is simple: fire.

Men love fire. I love fire. You could tell me there was a small recreational fire outside somewhere in a one-mile radius and I would rush out the door, find it and immediately begin tossing things into it like small kindling, large limbs and cans of hair spray.

I need little reason to light a fire. Usually I’m looking for reasons to do so. Bored? Light a fire. Lose at Monopoly? Light a fire. Fire go out? Light another fire, even bigger this time.

Grilling is the best. It allows you to light a fire, eat cooked meat and hopefully peeve off any nearby vegetarians. It’s the best of both worlds.

Another reason men like grilling is because even an idiot like me can do it. It’s pretty hard screwing up meat and vegetables on the grill. You might singe off all of your eyebrow hair doing it, but it’s difficult to mess up a grilled meal.

Most of the sliced zucchini and squash can fall through the grill and onto the piping hot coals, but grilling is hard to do wrong. Men love large margins of error. This is another reason we love grilling.

Cooking dead meat over an intense fire is an evolutionary instinct in men that dates back to prehistoric times when caveman loved accidentally receiving second-degree burns. And you have to admit that grilling out is much more masculine than throwing a Salisbury steak TV dinner in the microwave and nuking it to oblivion.

All of this talk about fire and grilling is making my hungry. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some eyelashes I need to go burn off.

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