A Grin at the End: Smoking, hot summer plans

June 2014 Posted in Columnists & Opinion

carl-sampsonBy Carl Sampson

June is a big month for yours truly. Not only is my birthday in June, so is our anniversary. Throw in Father’s Day and you have a trifecta of festivities.

Every year I am asked the same question: What present do you want? And every year I answer the same: a red Corvette. While that may not be realistic for the Sampson Department of Treasury, when people ask a question they deserve an honest answer, whether a $53,000 (base price) car is feasible or not.

I do, however, always have a ready backup answer that’s not quite as expensive – a new barbecue.

Years ago, my favorite barbecue was a Sears charcoal model that I got for $5 at a moving sale. For some reason, it provided just the right amount of heat in just the right spots to produce perfect burgers, steaks – anything – every time.

We moved 22 years ago, and the worst decision I made was to leave the barbecue behind with the house. I bet the owners of that house are still cooking the best food ever – on my old barbecue.

That, as they say, is barbecue sauce over the dam, but I’ve never had a barbecue that did the job as well as that old friend.

We’ve had charcoal models that just didn’t do it. Most recently we have a propane model that has done fine – except that the burners rusted, creating a 1,000-degree hot spot and other spots that barely reached air temperature.

The other day, my wife surprised me. Out of nowhere, she said, “Let’s go pick out a new barbecue.”

Maybe it was the fact that I would pet the barbecues at the store every time we went there, looking underneath them and checking burner types. Maybe it was that I had made a list of things to look for in a perfect barbecue. Maybe it was just the fact my wife can read my mind, but I immediately said, “Boy howdy! Let’s do this thing!”

That’s my way of saying, “Yes.”

On the way to the store, all I talked about was what makes a good barbecue. I’m not one of those guys that needs a lot of stainless steel, or side burners, or double propane tanks. Most of that is for show. All I look for is big burners and lots of room for extra sauce or rub to fall to the bottom. You can keep the fancy stuff. After all, I’m cooking on that thing, not entering it in a beauty contest.

We got to the store and there it was. It was love at first sight. Three big burners just waiting to take on a nice cut of steak. A thermometer to keep things from getting out of hand. And a bonus: an automatic starter.

And here’s the best part — my wife had a coupon for it.

This was just meant to be.

We got it home and, piece-by-piece, bolt-by-bolt, I assembled my new friend. It even came with a cover to protect it from the rain. Finally, it was ready for the start of a new life.

We will spend lots of sunny afternoons together, smoking up the neighborhood, telling stories and enjoying all that’s good about summer.

It may even be better than a Corvette.

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.