Fire. Food. Good.

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Andy Sauer

Andy Sauer

People gush poetically about spring and all its splendor, but I’m not a fan. I suffer from hay fever. I can’t stand bugs. And, mowing the lawn is just not as much fun as it used to be.

But, I do love breaking out the grill when the last frost melts away. To me, the first fire on the grill is the sign winter is over.

There are a few schools of thought when it comes to grilling. Some bring a higher level of aptitude to the art of open-flame cooking by developing unique marinades that infuse meats with a mélange of tastes from the orient and continental Europe.

Others blend various herbs and spices to rub on their steaks and roasts with all the firmness of a skilled masseuse, then slow-cook the meat in contraptions that resemble coal-fired steam engines.

And, there are those who light a fire and throw meat over the flame with all the deftness of a Neanderthal short-order cook.

That’s me.

Look, I’ve tried the other ways, and I get it. There is a satisfaction to grilling a challenging barbeque recipe and getting it just right.

My friend Eric takes grilling to that artisanal level. He gets his special cuts of meat from a butcher. He grills his food over fancy charcoals that are never in the shape of square briquettes. You know that type of griller? I like to joke that he lights the grill by rubbing two sticks of gourmet twigs to bring out the flavor of the charcoal. He hovers over the food, poking and moving it until it’s perfect. Like I said, he’s an artist and grilled meat is the medium.

Nonetheless, at its essence, all grilling is simply cooking food over fire outdoors.

I remember a guy working on our house awhile back. It was lunch. I put a burger patty on my propane-fired grill and the aroma of searing beef floated his way. I offered him a cheeseburger, and if his reaction was any kind of gauge, it was the best cheeseburger he’d ever had. Why? Because it was the cheeseburger he was eating at the moment.

Like our Paleolithic forebears who first discovered the joy of grilling, something about flame-cooked food gets our taste buds fired up. We’ve just been improving it over the millennia.

So, maybe I’m not as evolved as some of my fellow homo sapiens when it comes to grilling. No one’s complaining when the food’s ready, and it makes the hassle of spring all the more bearable.

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