Friday, November 20, 2009
As a transplanted southerner who is learning to appreciate Boston (but still occasionally finds himself missing his grill), I smiled when I saw Eric S. Raymond describe himself as "a Boston-born northerner" who has "eaten barbecue all over the U.S. and the world" en route to commenting on an interesting article from Australia that forthrightly and manfully admits that Americans are kings of the grill. (But I must say that there is zero disgrace in acknowledging a master.)
Even, and this is gonna hurt, the Americans have it all over us when it comes to cooking with fire, iron and tongs. In fact it's arguable the American barbecue, or rather its plethora of regional variations on barbecue, set the gold standard worldwide for applying heat to meat while out of doors. While the popular image of American cooking, at least as practised by average Americans, involves squeezing a plastic sauce packet over something nasty in a chain restaurant, the truth is their barbecue specialists would put ours to shame. Undying, unutterable shame.As Raymond notes, American food culture has improved drastically over the last generation, and it's refreshing to see someone overseas get past tired stereotypes and say as much. As I have to fly out the door this morning, I'll toss out a short list of barbecue links (Hah! Get it?) and take very brief note of an interesting comment exchange from Armed and Dangerous.
First, the links:
- Wikipedia, which deserves a post of its own on some "Love of Life Friday," has good articles on barbecue as well as its regional variants in the United States. In the latter article, see specifically how the form varies across Texas. My main quibble with Raymond is that I found his "farther south is better" rule of thumb too one-dimensional, although this could just reflect his personal taste.
- Finding an old post here about celebrating (Life on This) Earth Day by firing up the grill, I also was reminded that the practice made headlines briefly as a measurable component of Houston's local air pollution.
- Oh, and to round things out, another post here on the rites of spring discusses chimney starters, my bottle opener and cork puller of choice, and my favorite book on grilling, which I highly recommend.
JessicaBoxer: Is it really necessary to eat all that meat? ...Nice comeback, but he could have gone further, and I'm not even talking about the absurd notion that eating meat is unhealthy.
Eric S. Raymond: Well, since you ask, no. But most sex isn't 'necessary', either.
Man is an integrated being of mind and body, and mere physical survival is not the same thing as living a life proper to man. Pleasurable activities like sex -- including some that are risky or dangerous if performed carelessly or to excess -- are necessary to an enjoyable, properly human, life. I recently found someone make this same basic point very succinctly at Objectivism Online about smoking, of all things. (The first two words also very economically yank the discussion into its proper context: i.e., What is philosophy for?)
Pokarrin: ... I'm a smoker, which I know for a fact does not advance any possible purpose I might choose for my life...You could make exactly the same point about any number of other hobbies or activities. And with that, having survived anaesthesia and surgery last week, I move on towards the next stage of fixing a nearly life-long mouth problem...
Tito: Oh really? ... [I]f you enjoy the occasional cigarette, and don't mind running the risk of a slightly shorter life because of it (Though the risks of occasional 'casual' smoking are overblown by just about everyone) then by all means smoke. If it adds no value to your life, and you just do it because of some irrational chemical craving, then just who are you trying to fool?
PS: Via email, Martin Lindeskog has informed me that he is soliciting links for a new enjoyment-themed blog carnival.
Today: (1) Corrected some typos and formatting glitches. (2) Linked to Tito's Blog and ARL entry on happiness. (3) Added PS about new blog carnival.