Having given it some thought, I’m pretty sure BBQ and grilling might quite possibly be the best hobby there is. Or at least for me it is.
Before we begin let’s define the difference between BBQ’ing and grilling. Both are outstanding ways to cook, but are vastly different.
Grilling refers to quick cooking directly over the coals. Often thin cuts of meat like chicken breast, hamburgers, and hot dogs. It’s also a great way to cook most vegetables. And don’t get me started on what grilling can do for fresh fruit. When that flame gently kisses the natural sugars in the fruit and caramelizes them. Just aint nothing better on a warm spring or summer evening.
BBQ refers to long slow cooks at low temperatures that include smoke. This is primarily used for large cuts of meat with a high fat concentration. The long slow cooking process breaks down the fat and tenderizes the meat in the most magical way.
Now why, you ask, do I feel BBQ and grilling both make the best hobby? The reason are very simple.
Not Now I’m busy
What other hobby allows you to sit back with your favorite beverage next to you on a warm spring or summer day, with your cooking hat cocked just right, eyes open just enough to know what the dogs are up to, and still be able to claim “Not now I’m busy”?
It keeps a body home
Like a lot of guys my age (just couldn’t bring myself to go with middle aged) there comes a time when you realize in truth you’d just rather spend time with your family than anybody else. At one time I was an avid and rather good fly-fisherman, then my kids came about. Somehow after that it just got kind of hard to look the wife in the eye and say, “Hon, me and the boys are heading out for the day, or weekend, see ya latter.” Na, just fire up the grill or smoker, and let the kids run amok in the backyard. Or break out the football or baseball and play a little pass. Just two hard fast rules: 1) No running around the grills, and 2) KEEP THE @#$%& NERF FOOTBALL AWAY FROM THE OPEN GRILL!!! Now days my kids are older, grown for the most part, and we just enjoy time setting and talking. Here I am with my son (far right) and my son-in-law (middle) just enjoying a good smoke on a damp day.
Your wife will love your new hobby
She will find her kitchen duties shrinking in direct proportion to how your passion grows. No longer will she have to answer the dreaded question “what’s for dinner”. Most days you’ll have the chimney starter lit as she ask YOU eagerly what’s for dinner. And you’ll answer with some exotic answer like cedar plank smoked pork loin with a pineapple salsa. Occasionally she smile at you and say “Can we just have a simple grilled hamburger sometime”. It’ll kill ya, but humor her, no guacamole, no chipotles, no seared pineapple, no bourbon, just give the woman a simple hamburger. Ok, sneak in a little smoke. Because next week your going to be asking her to let you pick up some beautiful ribs at the butcher’s.
You can take it on the road
Even though I said it’s a great hobby you can do at home, there’s nothing that gets me jazzed more than “putting on a show”, unless of course it’s watching my son “put on a show”. Every year (16 now) we hit Tailgate Town with only one thing on our mind: To make those around us, wish they were us. And I must say, we’ve done a pretty good job. This aint no place for hot dogs, here it’s go for broke, as hundreds of people walk by and look longingly at what we have on the ol Webers or the UDS. Here’s my son putting on one of his better shows with lots of knife work, as he does authentic Mexican street food tacos, with fresh pico. You’ll have to excuse his Gator cooking hat, we are actually at Ball State Tailgate Town. You can’t deny a guy his cooking hat.
It’s a hobby that people will be more than willing to show up to enjoy with you
Unlike golf which you can enjoy with a few friends. Or fishing which you can enjoy with one friend but can’t talk while you do it. This hobby just begs for friends to join in, it practically screams the more the merrier. In fact I think that term was first coined by some old pit-master some where. You got to love it when friends and family gather around talking, laughing, as hickory smoke gently rises and the smell of a pork shoulder you starter in the wee hours of the morning begin to drift across the yard. Not too many things will bring you more joy on this earth than seeing someone enjoy something you took from raw fresh ingredients, worked slowly, over hours, gently building and creating, and turned to art on their plate. They may not look at it as art, but they will know who the artist was, and they’ll be back for more.
But I have to compete!
So you’re one of those. Yea, me too. This wonderful hobby allows you that opportunity too. Not only that, but it allows you to compete on whatever level you feel comfortable with, everything from the biggest shows (if you’re willing to pay),
to the small town fairs, where first place usually is nothing more than a trophy and a pat on the back for a job well done. But come on, for guys like us it’s not about the size of the trophy, it’s simply about bragging rights. The trophy or prize money is extra.
It doesn’t begin or end with me
Like all good hobbies it transcends time, it crosses generations. I couldn’t even begin to count the endless hours my son and I have cooked together. The 3:AM wake up calls to start a pork butt, the hours of prepping ribs, making sauce, making rubs, but mostly setting back, turning the phones off, and just talking, just “being”. When my son say’s “Dad I need to get my smoke on”. It tells me he’s had a rough day, and just needs his dad to be with him. Maybe deep heavy talk, or just maybe a listening ear, or maybe a chance to laugh and forget about the worlds problems for a few hours. And when I say the same to him he knows what it means. It means dad is ready to check out, and just let the world slide on past for a few hours. All while handing down a tradition that I hope never dies. Here is my dad with my son firing up the ol grill. Funny they both look a little younger in this picture.
May your coals NEVER grow cold.