…approach is always a crowd pleaser
Recently, on a Southwest flight back home from Kansas City, I was given a handful of free drink coupons from a sympathetic viewer. Determined to keep them from going to waste, I cashed them in while answering a few questions forwarded to me from a writer for Men’s Health. These particular questions were focused on the subject of grilling, a subject for which I hold no great passion or experience. However, if you’re interested in the topic, you can find the finished article here.
If, on the other hand, you’re more interested in seeing how gin, altitude, and exhaustion can lead inexorably to unprintable sarcasm, you might prefer my first pass. Below are the answers I originally submitted to Men’s Health from 37,000 feet. The writer quickly informed me that none of it was usable, but graciously provided me a chance to try again. Which I did. But really, what’s the point of having a Facebook page if you can’t fill it with stuff that didn’t make the cut elsewhere?
Here then, and apropos of nothing, are the original questions from Men’s Health as I first saw them, along with my original replies.
Q. How often do you grill at home?
A. Not much. I live in an apartment in San Francisco. I have an old grill I keep on the roof, but I’m told it’s illegal to use.
Q. How did you get into grilling?
A. I’m not into grilling. I’m not opposed to it, but I don’t really like to cook, and from what I understand, grilling is a form of cooking. I do love to eat though, and happily, I have friends with grills who like to feed me.
Q. Do you think grilling is a lost art (due to conveniences of microwaving, ordering take-out, etc.)? Why or why not?
A. Beats me. I’m intrigued by the passion that some people bring to the process, but honestly, I’m afraid I don’t share it.
Q. What is it you love most about grilling?
A. Let me be as clear as I can about my relationship with grilling…I don’t have one. It’s just not my thing. No offense. We should probably talk about something else.
Q. Please describe your grilling area at home in detail (i.e., what type of grill do you use, certain brand of charcoal or wood chips and why, what’s your grilling area set up with, etc.)
A. Look, I don’t know how else to say this. I’m not a griller, OK? I have no “grilling area.” Nor do I have an allegiance to any particular brand of wood chips, or the experience to speak with authority on the efficacy of competing charcoals. I’m sorry, but I just can’t weigh in here with any level of credibility.
Q. What tools are always in your grilling arsenal?
A. Call me traditional, but the only arsenal I maintain contains a few shotguns, a service revolver, and a ceremonial combat sword presented to me by The US Marine Corps. None are appropriate for grilling.
Q. Any dirty or gritty tips you’ve picked up while on the road that actually work for grilling?
A. Yeah. Let someone else do it for you.
Q. Any other tricks or hacks you’ve found to “man up your grill?”
A. You’re screwing with me, right?
Q. What are you drinking or snacking on while you’re grilling?
A. Ok. Fine. When I grill I like to snack on the absinthe and caviar. Nothing prepares my palate for the unbridled pleasures of charred flesh like the pure milky goodness of toxic wormwood and salt-cured fish eggs.
Q. Any favorite condiments?
A. I like the taste of melted crayons. In particular, Burnt Umber.
Q. Favorite grilling memory? Maybe a family occasion?
A. Gosh, so many to choose from. Let’s see…one time, our nightly bonding session around the Hibachi was nearly canceled when my Dad forgot to pick-up the steaks. He thought my Mom had got them earlier, and now the butcher was closed. Suddenly we were in a pickle. So we grilled my little brother instead. True story. He was delicious. To this day, we reminisce about how tasty relatives can be when you grill ‘em just right.
Q. What’s the most manly (or strange) way you’ve ever grilled a piece of meat?
A. Well, last night I grew a beard, stripped to the waist, and rubbed napalm all over a ribeye. Then I walked to the other side of my living room and shot a flaming arrow into the meat. The whole thing went up like flash paper. I call it “The Viking Funeral Grill-Master Extravaganza.”
Q. Any tips for the novice griller who really wants to make an impression?
A. Well, The Viking Funeral approach is always a crowd pleaser. But if you really want to leave them speechless, try the “HALO/Flame-O Ariel Igniter.” I learned this approach from my friend Frank, a Navy Seal and recovering pyromaniac who specializes in High Altitude Low Open parachute jumps. Basically, the HALO-Flame-O approach requires you to leap out of a helicopter with a flame-thrower, and light the grill from mid-air.
I start by positioning my grill on the roof, along with a set of Bose speakers, an amp, and a sub-wolfer. I cue up “Light My Fire” from The Doors. Then Frank picks me up in his SA-315B Lama, and we ascend to 30,000 feet. Of course, at that height, oxygen is necessary, and the helicopter becomes a bit unstable, but that’s all part of the fun! When the engine finally stalls, usually around 12,000 meters, we auto-rotate for bit, and then I jump. I hit terminal velocity in about thirty seconds, and fire up the flame-thrower. At 20,000 feet, I’m plunging toward my rooftop like a flaming lawn dart. At 10,000 feet, I jettison the face mask and oxygen. At 2,000 feet, I hit the stereo remote control, and The Doors begin to play. At 1500 feet, I rip my cord and hang on for dear life. It takes me 1000 feet to slow down enough to survive the impact. At this point, I reposition the flame-thrower in a downward direction between my legs, (this is the tricky part,) and turn the volume all the way up on the remote. Jim Morrison’s shaky baritone throbs through the air, as liquid flame explodes downward from my crouch. The effect is stunning, and almost always gets a big round of applause from the fireman who gather on my roof with local law enforcement. Invariably, the flames spread from the grill to the surrounding architecture, and by the time I land, the grill and the meat are usually disintegrated. The thrill is unexampled though, and I recommend it without reservation.
Q. Any upcoming projects (book, new products, TV show, movie, personal milestones, etc.)?
A. Good question! “Somebody’s Gotta Do It” is currently in production. It will air on CNN in sometime this fall. We’re looking for people who are deeply passionate about their job, their hobby, or really, pretty much anything. Know anybody who’s passionate about grilling?