Fire Represents Life on Survivor and Food on the Beach

About this time last week I was able to do something that I had never done before.

It was not that I had never wanted to do this particular thing. In fact I had often thought about how fun it would be to try.

Still despite my best efforts and desires I had never found myself with the opportunity to grill my own dinner.

Of course I have cooked my own dinner numerous times and actually enjoy coming up with new creations but the pivotal manly event of cooking over either a propane or charcoal grill with visible flames had eluded me.

Early attempts at fire starting proved difficult to say the least. Photo R. Anderson

Early attempts at fire starting proved difficult to say the least.
Photo R. Anderson

I mean some people would say that guys are born to grill from the womb with generations of instincts rattling around through them dating back to the first fire discovering cave men.

Others might think that a man of my age who had never actually harnessed those generations of innate fire cooking skills is not really living up to their full manly potential.

It is hard to say how it is that I got so far in life without ever being head griller. There were just always others around who would do the cooking.

And of course apartment living did not always make for the best open flame situations so I did get to be quite good at George Foreman Grill cooking.

In the spirit of full disclosure I had cooked over an open flame before with Smores and campfire hot dogs but I am talking about never firing up the grill and having an honest to goodness All American barbecue where it is man versus grill.

Of course as is often the case one needs to be careful what they wish for.

While burgers, steaks and other red meat delights tend to be the go to carnivorous treats for cooking over open flame, my grilling debut experience included jumbo shrimp and fish fillets.

As they say about what to do when in Rome, it seemed more fitting for seafood grilling when overlooking a pool and hearing the sounds of the waves of the Gulf of Mexico.

Knowing that the shrimp were likely so fresh that they were still swimming and doing what shrimp do a day ago was also a bonus to the entree choice.

Through trial and errors, and the right charcoal, fire finally arrived. Photo R. Anderson

Through trial and errors, and the right charcoal, fire finally arrived.
Photo R. Anderson

Of course, fresh seafood can be way less forgiving on a grill than say a huge hunk of meat.

So I knew that my seafood would require constant supervision and a keen eye to avoid it getting too rubbery or over cooked.

What I did not know was how difficult it would be to get the all-important cooking flame going at the start of the process.

While I had witnessed many a time on the grill this was my first attempt at actually starting the fire making process.

So armed with charcoal and an Aim in Flame I went down to the grill to get the fire started.

Now in my mind I pictured a quick shot of the Aim in Flame followed by glorious full spreading fire that would be the start of the process.

I have never had much luck with using paper matches. Not sure why that is but they always seem to give me fits. So with the Aim in Flame I knew the spark to start the fire would likely not be an issue.

Unfortunately the charcoal I had to work with was the non-presoaked kind so it involved lighter fluid as well as spark.

After numerous attempts to get the full range of charcoal burning and applying copious amounts of lighter fluid I just could not get the full glorious flame that I had seen in my previous observations of grilling.

Fish on the grill waiting for the shrimp to join it. Photo R. Anderson

Fish on the grill waiting for the shrimp to join it.
Photo R. Anderson

After switching to presoaked charcoal though I was able to get the flame going and was one step closer to putting the food on the cooking surface.

Once the charcoal turned a lovely shade of gray it was time to foil up the cooking surface and place the Old Bay seasoned food upon it.

Just for the record Old Bay goes great on pretty much everything.

Of course I forgot another crucial step in the cooking delicate seafood on foil approach and that was the use of non-stick cooking spray.

Growing up I did not see a lot of non-stick cooking spray used so it did not really dawn on me that things could stick.

So, some of the seafood stuck to the foil and some of it did not.

Then when it came time to flip the items over for even cooking it became clear to me that I was missing the crucial grilling tongs and other utensils that are often found where grilling is taking place.

So instead of longer tongs with insulated handles I was forced to use regular all metal kitchen tongs which had me closer to the fire than I would have liked.  Also since the tongs were completely metal they tended to get really hot while I was trying free the stuck fish from the foil’s grasp to flip it.

Still, despite the various challenges I was able to cook the fish and seafood for just the right amount of time and had a lovely dinner that was grilled to perfection.

Once I finished the dinner I will admit to having a Tim Allen Tool Time moment where I may or may not have let out a vocal manly grunt to commemorate my success.

So I am sure that I will grill again and grill often now that I have discovered how easy it can be. Of course the right charcoal and non-stick surfaces don’t hurt in making it easier.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I think I need to find something else to cook over fire.

Copyright 2013 R. Anderson

 

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