I grew up in an era when cooking inside the house was considered woman’s work, and cooking outside the house men’s play. Of course, that play was never really called “cooking,” but rather grilling, barbecuing, smoking, or burnin’ some meat.
Until the days of citified gas grills, the best part was lighting a match to something. Even with propane, there is the nearly erotic thrill of a potential explosion. It always involved secret methods (“I cain’t tell you the recipe. It’s my secret rib rub”) and the breaking of rules, as in squirting liter fluid directly onto an open flame, a flagrant violation of the package warning.
There’s just something rebellious, something fun, about setting your dinner on fire. And, even today, in my neck of the woods it’s damn near a revolutionary act for a woman — especially a fancy woman — to build a fire in a smoker with natural charcoal, sweeten it with damp hickory wood chips, add a pan of water, and then nurse it for four hours until her secret-rub-recipe slab of ribs is tender to the bone.
Luckily, my man is more evolved than most around here – heck, around anywhere, truth be known. He just sits in the cool air-conditioning admiring the cut of his woman’s jib as I run in and out of the house all afternoon, my hair curled and frizzy in the humidity, my ever-present black t-shirt giving off waves of eau de charcoal.
“You sure are working hard,” he says.
“Yep,” I answer, sidling up to him with my wild hair and eyes over-bright from the thrill of the fire.
“Are you having fun?” he asks.
“Sure am. I’m having a blast.” I answer with a grin.
“Thought so,” he said, arm snaking around my waist. “You look like you’re having fun.”