Page 7 - May 2021 Barbecue News Magazine
P. 7

Isn’t the meaning of live fire cooking obvious? Everybody knows fire and everybody knows we cook with fire. Maybe it’s obvious, like boiling, baking, roasting or frying, but the expression has caught on as if it’s a genre unto itself. Since it doesn’t mean the same to everyone, it begs definition. Barbecue historian Howard Taylor sheds light on the sub- ject in his working draft, not presently in the public do- main. Thus, as far as I know, the jury is still out on a universal definition of live fire cooking unless I’ve missed something in various hard copy barbecue glossaries and online searches. Nevertheless, my search has led to some fun and interesting thoughts and information.
Consider the sun, for example. That enormous orb of in- tense, powerful live fire has the capacity to cook food on earth from a distance of 93,454,227.3 miles, but the sun is not typically associated with live fire cooking, presumably because flames from the sun do not directly contact our food. Of course, homemade or commercially manufactured reflective cookers that use sun power are no strangers to outdoor cooking, especially among barbecue enthusiasts, nomads and “off the grid” settlers.
Long before Prometheus was credited in Greek mythology for bringing fire to humans, our distant ancestors were so keen on the importance of the sun to survival that sun wor-
ship, tributes and rituals were common.
Everyone on the planet recognizes the power and impor- tance of fire. Besides using fire for cooking, heating and manufacturing, we use it and celebrate it with art—the aforementioned sculpture at Rockefeller Center, for exam- ple—and rituals—the transport of a lighted torch from Athens to Olympic competitions, the symbolic passing of a torch or gavel during leadership transitions, burning in- cense in religious ceremonies, the Burning of Regrets in Jasper at The Jack, and so forth.
Overthinking the meaning of live fire cooking—or any bar- becue topic—can put us in the middle of Bishop Berkeley’s proverbial 18th century cognitive dust storm, having raised so much dust that we cannot see. We can easily get bogged down in the pursuit of naming and defining everything in the world around us and organizing it in categories, genres and such. Defining barbecue and live fire cooking is no ex- ception. Some things defy exact classification and defini- tion, and that’s okay.
Call it grilling, smoking, barbecue, live fire cooking or whatever. It’s more important to strive for excellence, and when it tastes good, share it and enjoy it!
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