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Kings of the Grill: Why Men Are So Territorial

Aug 16, 2012 03:44PM ● By Erin Frisch

Kings of the Grill: Why Men Are So Territorial

Men often cede cooking responsibilities to the women in their lives. But as Labor Day approaches, men’s interests in marinades vs. dry rubs and achieving the perfect sear on a steak approaches an obsession. A man may spend hours researching the advantages of cherry-wood chips over mesquite, while he has no idea how to turn the oven on. Have these men been possessed by the spirit of Julia Child? Did they fall asleep watching Emeril or Bobby Flay and wake up with culinary desires subliminally implanted? What inspires men with no apparent interest in the culinary arts to embark on the quest for the golden grill?

What’s at Steak? Grilling isn’t an inherently masculine task; in many cultures, women are in charge of the grill. But it does have elements that hold special appeal to modern men. Twenty-first century life is a controlled, civilized affair. Most jobs don’t involve a brush with death. Electric heating coils, microwaves, and food processors make the kitchen a much safer place. For those who crave a side of danger with their ribs, it’s time to head for the Great Outdoors—or at least the backyard.

The Call of the Wild First, there’s the element of cooking over a flame that must be tamed. No dial or button can contain the power of a charcoal-fueled fire. The coals are ready when they have been conquered by your mighty skill and not before. Second, grilling usually involves large slabs of meat perhaps reminiscent of woolly mammoth, cuts too large to fit in an oven. Grilling is too hot, too big, and too fraught with danger to be allowed indoors! Finally, even mild-mannered tax attorneys long to connect with their hunter forebears, gathering ’round the fire after hauling the vanquished beast back to their caves—even if they wouldn’t be caught dead in anything like a loincloth.

Threats to the Royal Grilldom The feminist movement has proven that women can hold their own in tasks that were previously considered the realm of men. While some of these are still largely male dominated, each field has a few women who outshine many men. While women aren’t yet a major threat to the rule of the King of the Grill, the day could come. Heavy is the head that wears the grilling crown and waves the mighty tongs like a scepter, and men will defend their primal connection to the flame.

The most significant obstacle to a man’s reign as King of the Grill is his fellow man. Debates over vinegar-based vs. tomato-based sauces, the role of basting, and other grilling minutiae are ways not only to create tasty, tender cuts but also to achieve and demonstrate dominance. Humans are competitive creatures, and men especially so. What better way to display your superiority than to oblige your rival to swallow the symbol of your right to rule, with or without steak sauce? Short of beating your chest, grilling is the best way to connect to your inner caveman. At least until football season starts.

How do you dominate the grill? Share your favorite recipie or method.

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