If Keats could write an ode to a Grecian urn, then surely a blog tribute to my Weber grill is appropriate.
In the driveway I've got an old black Weber grill that I love. And I do mean old -- I picked it up from my friend "T-Bone" the Mailman 20 years ago or more, and he and his wife Connie had used it for a year or two before he sold it to me. Moreover, I do mean love it. I'm not much of a cook -- my beautiful bride takes care of most of that -- but when I set my mind to it, I can make good things happen out there.
I started in the very early '80s with a mini-Weber -- the "smoky Joe." It fit right in with my mindset at the time. Go small. Stay portable. Save the earth. But when I got a great deal on T's larger model, I said yes, and the rest is barbecue history.
After a while, you get to know this appliance's ways, and if you're not too busy fixing drinks, watering plants, playing with kids, or programming the backyard boombox while you're grilling, you can pull some mighty fine eatin' out of it. Whole chickens. Even turkeys. Big slabs of fish. Baskets of grilled vegetables. Corn on the cob wrapped in tin foil with a little butter. Occasionally burgers, pork chops, or even steaks. Oh yeah.
Guys my age have gas grills. They also play golf.
Hell, no. Not me.
You get the coals to red, load up the grill, put that lid on top, leave the air holes open just a little, and dang, it gets hot in there. What a fantastic design. Bravo to the wonderful inventor -- a Midwest American, I hope -- who came up with something so elegant. They ought to have one of these babies in the Museum of Modern Art.
My old soldier's gone through some replacement surgery over the years. I think I'm on the third upper grill (where the food sits), and second lower grill (on which rests the charcoal). The little rails that keep the coals to the sides when I'm using the "indirect method" (which is most of the time) are not original. And I think I replaced the ash-catcher pan down by the wheels once. But the basic kettle is original, including the wooden handle, which is one tough piece of wood. There's a funky little appliance repair place up on NE Columbia Boulevard that sells replacement parts; I managed to score an official Weber cover for the whole setup there a few years back, and it's probably extended its life a little.
There are a couple of rust spots on the side of the old Weber, and they're starting to open up to the point where there may be only a couple of years left. Then the temptation will be strong to switch to gas. When it's raining and I wish I could grill, that temptation is strong. But there's something about doing it with the wood, just like grandpa, dad and the uncles did, that's irresistible. I'll likely be a charcoal man until my dying day.
Hey, I'm getting hungry writing about this, people. Time to trek over to City Market and pick up some sturgeon or halibut. Maybe a couple of oysters to throw on and cook in the shell. Bon appetit.