Typical gas grillA good friend of mine, Jack (last name withheld to protect the guilty) informed me he has recently bought a gas grill — so I’m writing him to straighten him out.

Dear Jack(ass)

The art of grilling, for better or worse, is a man’s identity. It’s more important than money, fame or even family. Sell the kids if necessary but hold on to the grill. I mean if you can’t grill a decent pork roast or ribs, what good are you?

But over gas!!!??? Hell Damn No!

Grilling — real grilling — is not done over gas. You COOK over gas, you GRILL over coals. There’s no compromise on this matter. Working as a male prostitute is more honorable than a man standing in front of an eight-hundred-dollar-chrome-gas-grill from Lowe’s!

barry400Gas grilling is uncompromisingly gay. (Please, no insult is intended toward gay men or women who grill over charcoal or those who don’t grill at all. But if you are gay, straight or just slightly bent and you grill over gas, well, you deserve the abuse.) To cook with gas means abandoning all masculine values and you will forever wallow in a Barry Manilow-like world! (Please Jack — tell me you don’t wear an apron that says “Kiss the Cook!”)

The carcass, be it pork shoulders, ribs or flank steak must be unhurriedly cooked over coals of charcoal, wood or both in a long tribal ritual. (Actually flank steak should be cooked hot and fast but that is completely beside the point!)

734263777_30de36aeb2The ritual starts very early in the morning with a huge fiery eruption of flame created by the heavy application of “Jiffy Juice.” (Lighter fluid to the uninitiated. If you are over the age of 50, gasoline is also an acceptable fire inducement.) After surviving the initial explosion and attending to any 1st or 2nd degree burns, watch the coals burn down. Only after the shimmering coals glow like the fires of hell (which I regard as a mini-preview of scenes of my next life) will you then add the meat. Don’t slap the meat directly over the fire. It has to be cooked slowly over an indirect heat, in a lazy, roundabout way, almost as though you are sneaking up it.

Side note:
To live in Man-ville, it is not necessary to have hunted and killed your own meat for this endeavor. I personally know the location of damn near every grocery and butcher shop in Atlanta, so staking out some poor bastard’s farm and shooting my own pig seems a little unnecessary.

smoke2After the meat is on the grill, “The Vigil” officially begins. This involves a lot of sitting but technically you are “busy” so you don’t have to mow the lawn even if the wife asks. For the next eight hours you will need to endlessly add pecan or hickory wood which has been soaked in water to create copious clouds of thick, pungent smoke that will slowly and deeply permeate the sacrificial meat. Ideally you should create enough smoke so that the local fire department occasionally drops in to see what the hell is going on…(Tip: if you cut them in on a little of the final product you may avoid any fines.) The meat must have been previously set adrift in a golden marinade of coarse salt, garlic, red pepper, cumin, oregano, Tabasco and Joe Dale’s Sauce for 12 to 24 hours. Stuff it in the bottom of the frig overnight. If there isn’t enough space for the 28 pounds of meat, make room by throwing out all that other junk like carrots, yogurt and that horrible hummus crap that your wife bought.

The meat should cook gradually under your intent gaze for 7 or 8 hours. (You are allowed to nap during this period.) Throughout “The Vigil” you should carefully nurture a steadily increasing “Beer Haze.” (Beer Haze is a culinary term I picked up at Le Cor-damn Bleu School in Paris – it’s a form of internal self-glazing.) To keep from dying of hunger during this lengthy process you may also add shrimp, Vidalia onions and other small animals and even the occasional marinated mushroom to the flame to snack on. But don’t keep opening the damn grill to look in too often; you’ll lose all the good smoke and heat. No one else should touch the grill but you during these sacred hours of male bliss. Women and small children should be kept well away (at the very least out of earshot) at all times. (Male friends named Bubba, Cooter or MudFlap Jefferson may stand next to the grill with you.)

Another side note:
grilling with beerDO NOT inform your wife as to how much “Beer Haze” you have applied. Since this ideally should all take place in your back yard and not in your living room, you will find it easy to simply pitch the empties into your neighbor’s yard. If you really have brass ones you might try occasionally leaning over their fence and yelling, “Clean this mess up, you’re running down the neighborhood!”

Continue to push fluids throughout the grilling process because it’s hot as hell down here in the summer. (I strongly suggest beer or anything with a high alcohol content, ‘cuz the water in Atlanta will kill you.) Keep up the application of low, sweet heat and lung-gagging smoke for at least 8 hours until a glorious, smoked shoulder or butt roast with a crispy, blackened shell emerges from the grill. The meat should crack open and be fallin’ off the bone at this point.

Through your increasingly intoxicated fog you will witness a gathering slowly beginning to grow at the borders of your blazing dais. Women, children and the less masculine will come and marvel at your Hunter-Gatherer-Grilling skills. They will be in awe of the hulking, smoking, steel monster spitting out clouds of testosterone-laced aromas. You will suddenly appear to them as a powerful, albeit somewhat drunken, supernatural being…(Bragging about your pitiful high school gridiron achievements and how fast your old Chevy supersport could go is considered appropriate in most circles at this time.)

230018262_a57a170d05The final test will come and it is the most important. Members of the tribe will tear off the first glistening shreds of smoked, mouth-watering carcass and lay it upon their tongues. They will be at a loss for words, their eyes will roll, they will involuntarily lean back in their chairs. There will be a long silence…they will hesitate and stammer and finally in an orgasmic fervor they will blurt out the words…”Oh my eff-ing god that’s good!”

At that point, my dear Jack, you can stand a little straighter and will have earned the right to call yourself a man. (Or at the very least Man-ish.) You have now entered Grillin’ Paradise. (Screw all that yoga crap, you’ll never find nirvana, peace of mind or even your car keys with that bullcrap.)

So walk with me Jack, load that chrome Home Depot abomination onto your bass boat, putter out to the middle of the lake and in a cleansing ritual push that 330 pound chrome Gaseous Atrocity over the side and enter the world of manhood. (Note: I am not advocating lake dumping here, but needless to say you don’t want to get caught by the lake patrol doing this.) Then go forth and obtain a steel tub of any shape or form, a 50-gallon drum, an old steel garbage can, anything made of steel with no moving parts. Invest in charcoal, buy some wood, cut some wood, steal your neighbor’s wood, (while you’re at it you might as well steal your neighbor’s lawn chairs too, they are very useful during the vigil) and create an altar of flaming steel in the back yard where you, and only you, will stand as high priest and let the protein sacrifices begin.

In summation, Gas-Grillin’Jack, re-claim your shrunken testicles and stand tall by the fire with your brethren once again!!!

Yours truly,

The Big T (the Grillin’ Fool)

P.S. And for god’s sake, don’t ruin a perfectly grilled pork roast with that hideously sweet, sticky red goo they call BBQ sauce that is sold at Publix. Make your own with copious amounts of vinegar, garlic and crushed red pepper. The rest, of course, is top secret.

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Trevor Stone Irvin

Trevor Stone Irvin

Illustrator and Designer living in the Candler Park area...At one time I worked at the Atlanta Constitution and then for CNN at the startup...it all seemed too much like real work so I went freelance...which my father defined as "being unemployed for a real long time".