Sunday, May 1, 2016

Strugglin’ with Some Barbecue

If you’re an aficianado of the sport, I’d like to suggest you consider the proposition that one man’s barbecue can be another man’s odiferous burnt offering.
It was brought home to me, not for the first time, while sitting on my writing bench. There’s a steady westerly breeze at my back there most days, and this particular day someone to the west of me decided to sacrifice a steak. From downwind, that’s nothing but the smell of fat frying, and it ain’t appetizing.
When I lived in a third-floor apartment in Los Angeles, a couple downstairs (but upwind) from us used to barbecue on the tiny balcony each apartment had attached. The smoke inevitably wafted upward and eastward to ours. I used to post an article at the central apartment house mailbox area citing medical evidence that barbecued food was carcinogenic.  The article kept disappearing, but I had taken the precaution of photocopying it and so could post it again each time it was taken down. Eventually we moved, and the debate was a draw.
But it’s a contest I don’t expect to win. The custom might have reasonably died with the Cro-Magnons, but then Lamb had to write his “Dissertation Upon Roast Pig” and glorify the idea. No, barbecuing  is here to stay, even if not as the rustic wood-  or charcoal-burning thing it used to be. Bad enough when it was a sack of chips and some accelerant your neighborhood arsonist would have admired. Now people are given to gas-fired kitchens-on-wheels lacking only radio and heater to make them completely self-contained.

I guess it’s fun for some people; just seems odd after all the trouble generations of our ancestors went through to bring cooking in out of the weather. I look forward now to a nostalgic return to outdoor plumbing.