I’ve got a couple of ideas about 4th of July plans, but I know this: I will not be grilling.
In college, my friend Robyn and I took over an apartment from some friends who were moving to London. Since they couldn’t take much with them overseas, they left a lot of stuff behind. In fact, we had to insist that Kerry get rid of a broken floral couch that he thought we might be happy to have. We went several rounds over it, pointing out that it was (a) ugly, (b) broken, and (c) between the two of us we already owned three couches. He was finally convinced and hauled it away to parts unknown, but among the other things he and Ben left behind were four bottles of spray butter (?!?!) and a grill.
We’d never grilled before. My cooking repertoire consists largely of peanut butter sandwiches, basic Mexican food, and frozen pizza. Robyn is more of a baker. But when I got some venison from my brother, we thought we’d try wrapping it in bacon and cooking it on the grill. I have no idea if that is a ridiculous idea or not from a technical standpoint, but I figured the combination of meat, bacon, and barbecue sounded tasty.
We stood on the porch with a bag of charcoal and realized we weren’t sure what to do next. We shook out a healthy layer of briquettes and tried to light them. Nothing. Half a dozen wasted matches later, we figured it was time for a new approach. We had some lighter fluid, which we applied liberally, and then, we struck a few more matches. I’ve since heard that it’s good to give lighter fluid a minute to soak into the coals, but at the time, we figured it was like lighting any flammable substance. Match + accelerant = instant fire. Only that didn’t happen. Now, I’m not a patient cook, which is why I consider peanut butter such a diet staple. It’s delicious, it’s filling, and it’s ready in the time it takes to open a jar. So, when the fire didn’t pick up right away, we tried more lighter fluid. We kept dousing the coals, and, frankly, I’m surprised either one of us still had eyebrows by the time we were finished. When the fire finally got going, it burned so hot and so high that some of the meat caught fire, which is one way make sure that it gets cooked all the way through, I guess.
We ate what we could, but the end result was that what wasn’t charred was almost impossible to chew. Not to mention that we used so much lighter fluid that it took the better part of an hour to get the flames out completely. After that, we retired the grill, and when we moved out, we left it on the porch for the next renters. My dad has since tried to show me how to grill burgers, but he mostly wanted someone to have a beer with and keep him company while he made dinner. Now, that I could do.
Have a safe and happy 4th everyone!!