July 21, 2024
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July 21, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

By Mordechai Schmutter

It’s summer, and you all know what that means—time to stand outside and shvitz over the heat of your barbecue grill. We should grill when it’s cold, and that way we can enjoy the heat. But this is not something we thought of, because it’s men in charge of cooking on grills. If it was women, barbecue season would be the winter, 100%. They’d already be wearing mittens! This is so stupid.

Anyway, we need a new grill, because unfortunately, grills are not built to survive the winter.

We’re on our third or fourth grill at this point. Until this point, I’ve had a string of cheap-o $80 grills on which we’ve cooked maybe five to 10 times a year, total, whereas we’ve been living in this house for about 17 years now, and we’re still on the same stove.

Our grill lives on our patio most of the year, where it’s exposed to the elements. One element that it’s exposed to is that it’s also where we keep our basketball hoop. And one day last summer, my son comes inside and goes, “I broke one of the shelves.” You know those tiny shelves that stick out on the sides of the grill that the manufacturers tout like they’re going to be all the food-prep space you’re ever going to need for your entire barbecue, when in reality you have to balance your one pan just right so it doesn’t fall off, and then the foil on top of the pan keeps blowing away? Anyway, he said, “I cracked one of those with my basketball.” And this is the son who’s good at basketball.

Also, our grill no longer cooks evenly. I have two burners, and the fire works on both, but when I turn the meat over, the only piece that’s brown is the one in the front left corner. Science can’t explain it. I mean maybe science can, but it hasn’t.

Anyway, this time we decided we’re going to get a slightly nicer grill, by which I mean “one that’s less likely to have any of the problems the current one has.”

I also want a bigger cooking surface. Most of the time, I think grilling is going to take a half hour, and it ends up taking an hour and a half, and the next time I assume a half hour again, because there are no clocks out there.

Yes, hot dogs, for one, don’t need so much time to cook. Even on a part of the grill that doesn’t heat up. I know this because of the one time in my life that I used a charcoal grill. When I was a bochur, I went on an overnight with my friends, and one of them brought a charcoal grill and some franks, and we spent about an hour throwing matches into the charcoal and trying to figure out whether it was lit, and when we ran out of matches, we ate the franks. If they were hot at all, it was from the heat of the matches.

This is what our ancestors did before ovens.

So hot dogs don’t need to come through the front left corner, technically. Neither do peppers, which I put on every time despite the fact that everyone likes them better raw. But I don’t grill a lot of hot dogs, because my family actually prefers them boiled in water for some reason.

I don’t grill a lot of burgers either, but that’s because I lose most of it between the grates. As I’m putting them on the grill. Sometimes, while flattening the burgers with a spatula, I’ve literally pushed a few through the grates.

I also lose a lot of zucchini. My wife will give me an entire zucchini, cut into slices, and I’ll lay them all out, and over the course of the grilling, they will all fall between the grates, so that by the time I’m done cooking, my wife will ask, “What happened to the zucchini?”

OK, I do manage to save a couple, but just enough for me and my wife, which is OK, because we’re the only ones who would eat them anyway. The kids have to rely on whatever vegetables are in the condiments.

And it’s not like I can go in there and pick up the stuff I’m dropping. Especially since there are parts of the inside of the grill that you can never properly clean, which still has the drippings of raw meat from the first time you ever put meat on the barbecue. (Leading barbecue experts agree that the way to deal with that is to try not to think about it.)

Even cleaning the grates themselves is usually done with a brush and that’s it. Imagine if that’s how you cleaned your silverware.

OK, so I bought a grill, and this one has five burners, just in case. Plus a tiny stove on the side in case I’m not in the mood to barbecue. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do there. Boil hot dogs, I guess.

I did read the instruction manual this time, which was a nice change, and there is a surprising amount of page space specifically devoted to how to find and get rid of spiders. The first safety warning the instructions say is, “Never operate this appliance unattended,” which is really weird phrasing. Like people do things unattended all the time. But your stove instructions don’t say that. In fact, our oven has a feature called “delay start” that we just now noticed after 17 years.

Another warning in the instructions is that you should grill at least 10 feet from any structure. I don’t know a single person who grills 10 whole feet from their house. 10 feet? Most people grill on their porch, which is made of wood! In general, I pull mine 2 to 3 feet from the house and I figure that at that point, I’m standing closer to the grill than the house is. If my shirt spontaneously ignites, then I’ll know to pull it further from the house. It already says not to leave it unattended.

Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia and other magazines. He has also published eight books and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].

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