SOUR GRAPES: Chilling and grilling

Jim Magdefrau

Cooking in isolation

Equivocating. I see rain clouds are coming, but at least it will wash the bird poop off of my car.

The Weber grill is covered. No rain on that. This takes me back to barbecuing on the patio back home with Dad. We had a round flying saucer type of grill that allowed for one layer of briquettes. There was always a “whoosh” sound when the match hit the lighter fluid-soaked grill. After that, it was battle of lighter fluid vs. a 7-Up bottle of water to fire up the briquettes in spots and put out small fires in the places where we usually squirted the lighter fluid.

It was “our” time. Grilled burgers and burnt martinis. It was a feeling of accomplishment when the grilling was done, but also regret, wishing there was something else we could grill. It was amazing, in that the burgers didn’t taste like smoke and lighter fluid.

Then came the hibachi. This was space age stuff for us. When the Weber came along with an electric starter, it was pure rocket surgery. We could focus on important things, such as the traffic and the chores of work, while occasionally fussing with whatever was on the grill.

Fast forward to a few years out of college and cooking the first night’s meal for a reunion canoe trip. I picked up some brats from Allers, and loaded up beer, beans and kraut. With the help of the Coleman stove and hopefully no singed eyebrows, I prepared the first meal, draining the boring bean juice and putting in some magic fixings, and boiling the brats in beer before grilling. Again, it was a sense of accomplishment amongst my peers.

Now with plenty of time to do whatever we do, grilling is something that takes time. While trying to slap together four newspapers, it was something that was a break from e-mails and texts.

Now the break is the job. While on the job, once a month I’d cover a meeting in a building with large windows. Through those windows, I could see a neighbor sitting in his driveway. He lit up the grill, relaxed in a lawn chair and enjoyed his evening. Smoke was billowing from the covered grill. My body was typing on a laptop surrounded by brick walls, counting down the items and sub-items on the agenda. My mind was grilling at home, listening to tunes and watching the world go by.

Now, through technology I can exchange ideas with my nephews on grilling, while grilling.

I might might get flashbacks of sitting in the middle of a meeting. I shake my head in a Loony Tunes style back into reality. I’m listening to the Weber work.

It’s not just therapy. It’s a family tradition. It’s our time.

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