Sunday, August 27, 2006


There is something about the smell of meat roasting over a charcoal fire that excites the sensorium like few other things.

Unless you are a die-hard vegetarian - or worse, a vegan - there are few aromas more enticing. Whether it’s just a few burgers or hot dogs sizzling on the grill, or (better yet) a nice, inch-thick slab of steak, that Meaty Pong gets the juices going, big time.

She Who Must Be Obeyed opined, the other day, that it must be a Cultural Memory thing, that the smell of sizzling meat recalls to us the days of the Sacrificial Cult in the days of the ancient Temples in Jerusalem. And this may very well be true. Think on it: Back in the Day, hundreds of animals were brought to the Temple to be offered up unto the Lord...and not incidentally, the Levites and priests. A big-ass barbecue, 24/7, all in the name of the Almighty! OK, so there was no pulled pork...but think of alla them Rib-Eyes...chickens...turtledoves...tender baby kids...

But I think it goes back farther than that.

I think we Modern Humans still carry the ancestral memories of those first cavemen who discovered the wonders of Fire-Roasted Meat. We are all descendants of those ancient Brave Souls who first thrust chunks of bloody dripping meat into the communal flame. It’s an aroma - a sweet savor - that connects directly with the innermost Reptilian Brain lurking in the back of our skulls.

Yesterday evening, with our friends Gary and JoAnn, we had a feast that even a caveman could appreciate.

Huge slabs of Hanger Steak, seasoned with kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, and ground thyme, roasted on the grill, smothered in sautéed shallots. Accompanying them were ears of corn, slathered with a blend of butter and mellow roasted garlic and grilled in their husks; roasted asparagus spears; and buttered sugar snap peas. And for SWMBO, who is still on the No-Chew Meal Plan, fillets of salmon, seasoned and steamed in foil on the grill.

It was all I could do to keep from picking up those steaks with my hands and gnawing on them, Fred Flintstone-style.

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