Monday, June 21, 2010
There are two kinds of people in the world
Charcoal people and gas people. I am a gas person. I had a gas grill once, and I used it. I grilled regularly, easy things like hamburgers and zucchini and more challenging things such as ribs. Then I lost the gas grill in the divorce and I got one of those small, portable gas grills. The ads show groups of high spirited kids galloping off to the beach with their towels, hackey sacks and small portable grill. They look like little portable boom boxes and they cook about that well. I left it on the side of the road with a FREE sign next to and some optimistic person, who had presumably seem the ad, took it.
The bf is a charcoal person and cleaning a gas grill is a real drag, so I got a small charcoal grill and I just let him do the grilling. About twice a year I have to try to grill something and turn it into pure carbon in a matter of minutes just to remind myself that I'm a gas person.
But yesterday was father's day and his son's came over and the three of us were going to do the grilling. I had bought some natural charcoal because really charcoal seems to be comprised of pure carcinogens that are released into your food when you burn them. Naturally, the natural charcoal didn't light. We dumped a can of lighter fluid all over them, pretty much obviating any "natural" and "non-carcinogenic" properties of the charcoal. But they still wouldn't burn. Then we read the directions and they recommend wadding up newspaper and lighting that under the charcoal. We did that. Well, the paper burned except where it was touching the natural charcoal. I think that charcoal was sprayed with asbestos.
We gave up. The boys went to the store for some MatchLight and I dumped the cold and recalcitrant natural charcoal in an old metal barrel.
You know where this is going.
The MatchLight burst into flames. The boys might be gas people too because they emptied about 20 lbs of charcoal into a small Weber. We had a very hot fire. Two inch steaks cooked in about 5 minutes. But no one complained because by now it was nine o'clock and they just wanted to have a popsicle and watch the golf.
The golf ended, everyone went home and I went back out just to check the fire, more routine than any real concern. Well, the natural charcoal was burning merrily and very hotly. The old metal can was glowing; the wooden porch was smoking and smoldering. The porch looked like charcoal.
I have a fire extinguisher, but I don't really know how to work it, or more specifically, what sort of fire calls for a fire extinguisher. I went with water. I dumped the natural coals on top of the still glowing MatchLight coals, so now the small Weber was overflowing with glowing coals. Then I dumped all the dogs' water on the smoldering porch and pitcher after pitcher of more water on the coals and the porch. (no hose on that side of the house. Hmmm.) Whenever I stopped pouring water, the porch would immediately be dry and hot again. The coals were finally floating in water and that seemed to thoroughly discourage them. The porch took a little longer.
I considered calling the fire department, but I have neighbors near me and I didn't want four fire trucks with lights and possibly sirens parked in front of my house at 11 PM. I would have liked one fireman to come out and just look things over and reassure me, both that my house wasn't going to burn to the ground as I slept and that these sorts of things can happen to anyone and I really shouldn't feel bad about it. I'm fairly certain the fire department raises an eyebrow at such requests.
In a few days, when I can face the mess, I'm leaving the grill by the side of the road with a FREE sign on it. And I'm going to buy a grill pan.