05 August 2013

Backyard Barbeques

Luncheon of the Boating Party by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, 1881

My family lived in Philadelphia until I was seven years old, and our house had an unusually large backyard for the area. It was much smaller than my current backyard in the New Jersey shore town where we now live, but far bigger than those of my maternal grandmother and great aunt, who lived in the same neighborhood. Because of this, and because my father is a good barbeque chef, my family would often host barbeques for the Fourth of July and other summer events.

After we moved to the shore, our barbeques tended to be confined to our immediate family. My paternal grandparents' house is in the same town as ours, and had already been established as the barbeque spot for that side of the family. When we barbequed at home, it was usually low-key, with my father grilling up chicken or burgers for casual dinners.

Nowadays I prefer to cook my food indoors even when I prepare it barbeque-style. Grilling and other forms of high-temperature cooking can release carcinogenic compounds, so I prefer to play it safe and cook at moderate temperatures in the oven. You don't get the grilled flavor (which comes from the process that causes carcinogens to form), but I find I don't miss it. For me, barbeque is more of a cuisine than a cooking method, and spice rubs and sticky sauces work just as well indoors as out.

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