Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Is burnt chicken really patriotic?
I apologize for the lateness of my 4th of July-themed blog. I was trying to wait until my eyebrows grew back but that was taking a really long time, so I figured I might as well spill the beans, as it were. I had decided it might be retro to have a few friends over for a cookout on the 4th and celebrate as our forefather’s did, or so I’ve been told by the purveyors of alcoholic beverages. I find it hard to believe George, Benjy and the lot partied down after their victory of those proper British villains by hosting a kegger and burning red meat and poultry. However, my father took hold of the idea of a BBQ like a raccoon to a penny so off to The Mart for a grill purchase. What? Did you really think he’d go somewhere else? If Crate and Barrel offered a grill I’d have purchased one in either kiwi or melon but alas ‘twas not to be. So off to The Mart we went on a Tuesday afternoon. I should have been paying attention to what he was tossing into our buggy but I was too busy fending off his attempts to pilfer all manner of sugar-coated treats. Have you ever tried to wrestle a package of bear claws from an overly aggressive elderly redneck in Little Guatemala while wearing pastel chinos and trying to maintain some sense of decorum so your disdain for the locals doesn’t seem out of character? No Dustin, just you.
The next morning, after we laid out the various cuts and types of meats to be grilled, I reminded him that we had invited exactly 4 people besides ourselves to this little shindig. There were enough hamburger patties to feed every laborer who built the Panama Canal with enough leftovers to end world hunger if we could convince third-world citizens that Spam is truly a food for the masses. Just sayin’. I left him to fire up the grill while I went to pick up our fantastic desserts (cupcakes from my favorite new bakery, SusieCakes in Menlo Park. A rookie mistake to be sure, but I simply cannot go any great length of time without having one of their delectable desserts. The blueberry pancake cupcakes are so good they ought to be illegal and probably will be soon enough, if the hippies get into the White House in November. I’ll let you decide who I’m talking about.
When I returned he was dousing the charcoal with lighter fluid. When I asked him why, he said, ‘So it’ll burn, boy. Lord, have you fergot ever’thing I taught you?” Of course not, I can still curse in 5 languages. The proud Thompson legacy lives. When I reminded him that the charcoal was manufactured to light with a match he wanted to know how I knew that. My pointing to the words “Match” and “Light” on the bag was deemed hateful and I was asked to retire to the kitchen with the other women folk, meaning, I guess, Lulu and the ghost? Before I could turn to get inside I felt whoosh of heat that singed my eyebrows from behind do you hear me? It was heat on a Dante’s Inferno scale; like backpacking on the sun, y’all. After he put out the fire that had consumed his most treasured Tractor Supply hat, I asked him what had happened. He replied, ever so innocently, “I guess I put too much lighter fluid on the charcoal.”
“You actually put lighter fluid on match light charcoal?”
“I wanted it to light.”
“But the bag said Match Light.”
“Hmpf. What does Kingsford know about charcoal?”
“As the manufacturers of said charcoal, I would say they know a bit more than you, Fire Marshall Bill.”
“Just go get the meat.”
Later my guests enjoyed any number of crispity, crunchity treats, which is good if you’re eating a Butterfinger but not so much when it’s supposed to be chicken and burgers. The fire was so out of control, he actually charred the corn that was wrapped in foil sitting on the bun warming shelf. Go big or go home, I suppose. Luckily the cupcakes were perfect. Thanks Cheyenne! Can I have my free cupcake now?
No sooner than I had regrown/restyled the singed hair on my arms, the weekend came and as I have previously reported, my new normal Saturday routine involves me chauffeuring my Daddy to “town”. Mr. Daisy he is not. This particular Saturday, we had to go get his truck weighed as he cannot find his registration papers with the weight listed and this is a requirement for a license plate in California as they consider all pickup trucks, regardless of their use, to be commercial vehicles. Yes, the land of the heathen is enough to make a good Baptist talk about somebody, do you hear me?
Lately I have been refusing to run some of his errands, hoping to force him out of his recliner and into the community at large, to no avail. Now that I’ve sold my recently paid-off car to my sister and I have yet to decide what mode of transport I will choose, I must depend upon the truck as my chariot. Of course my Daddy has seized upon this happenstance with all the glee of a cheating diabetic who finds a gallon of chocolate ice cream with no one to stop them from eating it all. Not that it happened. It’s purely conjecture at this point, although the fact that the trash can was emptied into the bin outside while I was at work is suspicious. On a positive note, yay him for leaving the house.
The reason I am giving you the back story is that we had a very interesting discussion on the way to get weighed. It involved the level of “macho” of various cooking oils, if you can believe that. We grilled out for July 4th and I invited people from work. Per my father, the attendees were three geeks (me included) two macho men (counting him) and one lady. One of my managers is a rather intimidatingly large person. He looks like a Hell’s Angel, but is one of the kindest people I have ever met. Imagine Gandhi on a Harley but less hateful. Seriously. When I asked him why he felt I was a geek (not that I was arguing, I was simply curious) he said everything about me was geeky right down to the grosh’ries in my pantry. When I asked “por ejemplo”, he said, “What?” When I repeated “for example” he cited my purchase of grapeseed oil as geeky.
So, to school you the “Redneck scale of Macho-nicity” for cooking oils, just in case you were wondering and even if you weren’t. I have decided if I have to know it, so do you. The price of loyalty for all 34 of you who read this.
Sunflower oil – “Sissy.”
Grapeseed oil – “Geeky.”
Safflower oil – “What the h-e-double-l is a safflower? You mean sunflower? I already said Sissy.”
Peanut oil – “Squirrelly.”
Olive oil – “Hmmm. Sounds fancy, so probably Sissy.”My apologies to Rachel Ray.
Vegetable oil – “A’ight I guess.”
Motor oil from an old lawn mower – “Macho.” Just kidding. What he actually said was, “If you’re not gonna take this serious, then why’re we talkin’ ‘bout it?”
When I asked what kind of oil he found appropriately masculine, he said, “Grease. With bacon.”
“Aren’t grease and vegetable oil roughly the same thing?”
“How is oil and grease the same thing? You don’t have them check the grease in your car every 3,000 miles do you?” Noticing my confusion, he muttered, “Knowing you, you prob’ly do. Where’d you come from again?”
“Your loins, old man. Don’t remind me.”
The frequency of odd conversations in my house is on par with the level of cholesterol in my father’s blood, which is comparable to a really good credit score. Like o% financing good, y’all. Pray if you feel it’s appropriate.