Not everyone goes courting with a galvanized steel bucket, a bundle of old newspapers and rabbit cage wire, but my guy did.
Being young, poor and too smart to rack up a bunch of debt on a credit card just to impress a girl, he elected to arrange romantic picnics in the park. He didn’t have a grill for steak or money for the steak, so he brought the metal bucket, paper and wire along with a few matches and enough hamburger to cook for the two of us.
I looked at him skeptically, but he assured me it would work. He made up the hamburger patties, slid them between the sheets of rabbit cage wire and lit the tightly wadded up newspaper sheets. The fats from the meat dripped down onto the paper and fueled the fire.
The contraption worked, it was cheap and introduced me to ‘blackened’ hamburgers. Flush with his first success, the maestro of the portable, cheap grill brought it the next time with a cast iron skillet, a dozen eggs and bread.
Feeding the fire, he toasted the bread then heated the pan, scrambled all of the eggs with salt and pepper and – in those cholesterol innocent days of yore – we chowed down and enjoyed every bite.
About the time we took the last bite, a homeless fellow meandered over wondering if we had anything to offer him. We looked at each other. “No, we cooked up all the eggs. We just have bread to toast.”
He looked at the closed egg carton, shook his head in disbelief at the profligacy of it all, took some toast, said it was good and wandered off to beg elsewhere.
After we married, we did not grill anything – not even over a bucket. I said I was not fond of the flavor or the mess. Then our children married and discovered backyard grills powered with charcoal briquettes or gas. Their grills had hoods and shelves for controlling heating various foods. Over the years of eating hamburgers, hot dogs, steaks and grilled salmon at their homes, they piqued our interest. Enough so that when our neighbor put out two grills at his yard sale, I wondered out loud if we wanted to try a more sophisticated method grilling than the bucket and wire provided.
My man kind of cleared his throat and told me he had already purchased the gas powered grill – it was out back on our cement slab patio.
So, Tuesday I pointed out a frozen trout I had picked up on sale and suggested he might want to try his hand at fixing it for supper. I suggested a simple dill and butter recipe I enjoyed – and left for work.
I don’t know everything he did while I was gone – I do know when I walked in that evening, the grill master greeted me at the door carrying an aluminum covered platter and announced, “Good timing, supper is ready. I just took the fish off the grill.”
He revealed a perfectly cooked platter with enough fish to last us a couple of days.
Quite pleased with himself and his production he proceeded to tell me all his secret ingredients: Salsa, garlic, onion, hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce and Sprite. He detailed the steps it took for him to get the grill fired up and the purchases he made to insure the fish went onto a clean grill and how he combined the last of two packages of vegetables and how he probably would arrange the baked potatoes on the grill in a different fashion the next time.
I don’t think he took a deep breath until he had described in minute detail his entire day of cooking.
I nodded, ate trout, baked potato and green vegetables and relished not having to cook and the revival of our romantic repasts in the park.