I just got an email from the management company of my building reminding us that it is illegal to have a propane or charcoal grill on your terrace or in your apartment. While having an open flame grill inside your apartment sounds crazy having one outside isn’t so crazy. But rules are rules and when we renovated our apartment we tried really hard to get the building to allow us to have a legal gas line barbecue but, in the end, didn’t succeed. So we have our indoor grill on top of our range and it does a pretty good job. The email got me thinking about why grilling has such an appeal that people are breaking these rules to have grilled food.
Grilling outside is a social way to cook. The stereotype is mostly true that men love to grill. I think a big part of that is the fact that they can stand around with a drink in their hand while ‘manning’ the grill. There are obviously varying ways to ‘man’ the grill. I have memories of grilling with my grandfather where he would set a timer on his watch so we would know when to turn the steaks so they were evenly cooked and also had perfect cross marks on them. On the other end of the spectrum is the set it and almost forget method where you simply watch for a lot of smoke or flames and then check in on what is cooking. Both ways are satisfying for the grill master and also produce delicious food.
Cooking over an open flame also provides sense of adventure. A gas grill is pretty easy to turn off and on, but you still have to watch out for flames firing up onto your meal. Lighting a charcoal grill or even cooking over wood is something that requires skill and should be rewarded with a delicious meal. The charcoal chimney is an amazing invention but there is still an amount of skill and luck to getting that fire going. Unless you grew up as part of the boy scouts or girl scouts, starting a wood fire is tough. Having the challenge of starting the fire and creating the environment to cook is one of the appeals of grilling.
Finally, there are the health benefits of having your food cooked over an open flame. First off, you actually eat less fat because the fat is dripping off of the meat through the grates on the grill. Foods retain more of their nutrients when cooked over an open flame. This includes vegetables and proteins and happens because of low water content in the food. You also eat less fat because you only need a little oil to keep the food from sticking to the grill but otherwise most of your flavor comes from the smoke of the grill and not from adding fats to your food.
With summer in full swing, grilling season is also in full swing. I hope you are able to enjoy the social and health benefits from grilling. Most importantly be safe when you grill and certainly don’t have an open flame grill inside the house!