Grilling is about more than food

Published 8:51 am Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Every year as the mercury on my old back porch thermometer starts threatening to burst out of its top bulb, a part of me curses the arrival of another hot, muggy Southern summer.

But another part of me comes alive, for when the frogs are in summer chrous and the honeysuckles are in full bloom, I know that primetime grilling season has arrived.

Don’t get me wrong — I am such a fanatic for outdoor cooking that I light up the charcoal year round.

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But summer is when the best part of grilling comes back around again again —  it’s all about “food and fellowship” as my cousin Roger would say.

During the winter months, my treks from the kitchen outside to the grill were solitary, as guests much prefer the comfort of an open hearth than the frigid outdoor cooking area.

But in the summer, the grill becomes a communal gathering point.

Since rarely do kitchens provide ample seating, the patio and outdoor grilling area is the natural place to spend summer afternoons.

Even the cook can be involved in the afternoon revelry and conversation.

This, of course, varies greatly from other times in the year. Thanksgiving, for example, usually dooms the cook and his or her assemblage of helpers to a lonely eight hours in the kitchen, slaving over  the oven while other carefree party guests socialize and enjoy themselves.

Not only does this free the cook up socially, but when an impromptu game of horsehoes gets underway mid-afternoon, even the grillmaster can take part in summertime games, assuming he or she is still within eyesight of the grill.

So the next cookout you attend, make sure you not only thank your chef, but try to involve them in the afternoon’s activities.

This is the one time of year that multi-tasking during meal preparation is not only possible, but encouraged.