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Split Pig on a Spit, Anyone?

By Devin D. O'Leary

JULY 13, 1998:  I don't care if you spell it barbecue, barbeque or just plain old BBQ. It's summertime, and that means it's time to break out the charcoal grill and start burning some dead animals in the backyard. Barbecue, you see, isn't simply a matter of cooking--it's an attitude, an atmosphere and a yearly ritual of fire and flesh. Being all these things (and more), the art of barbecue requires a certain amount of preparation. We can't simply dive willy nilly into this thing. There are aprons to be washed, knives to be sharpened and steaks to be marinated. Naturally, as in all things, we turn to the Web for guidance.

Barbeque Page (infoest.sbc.edu/barbeque.html)--Now here's a page that knows how to get us in the mood. Click up this little address, and you'll be greeted with a lovely illustration of a stained-glass window decorated with pigs, chile peppers and wood pit smokers. That pseudo-religious image is quickly followed with a beautiful poem about cookin' pig flesh south of the Mason-Dixon line. It's all enough to put a tear in my eye and a rumble in my stomach. This page is actually the online recipe archive of the BBQ Internet Mailing List (instructions are included on how to subscribe to that little wonder). Here you can get your greasy hands on hundreds of taste-tempting BBQ recipes for pork, beef, chicken and fish. We're talking sauces and rubs. The only drawback is that you have to download the recipes en masse, instead of browsing through them one by one. I guess that's why you should subscribe to the Mailing List.

Backyard Barbecue Buff (edge.edge.net/~markh)--Dial up this page, and you'll be greeted by Pancetta, a psychedelic, zebra-striped "hostess pig." Obviously, the grilling crowd has a certain fondness for its chosen nosh. Lest there should be any confusion, the author of this page states unequivocally that when he's talking about barbecue, he's talking pork shoulder and pork rib! To quote: "Other foods such as chicken can be cooked slowly and taste great, but they aren't 'BBQ.'" So there. If you're a neophyte fire jockey, then Backyard Barbecue Buff is the place for you. BBB gives you all the basics of BBQ cookin'--from starting the fire, to marinating the meat. There's also a section of "extreme cookers," featuring pictures of unusual barbecues. Talk about your backyard ephemera.

Barbecue'n on the Internet (barbecuen.com/)--This massive, eclectic site features hickory-smoked info on all things barbecue-related. There are lots of frames and plenty of little flaming icons--which could spell trouble for less snazzy browsers out there. If you can get it loaded, though, you've got more stuff than you can shake a spatula at. Tips, recipes, contests, newspapers, videos: We're talking hardcore BBQ freaks! These guys even go so far as to give you the low-down on your cooking apparatus. Barbecue'n on the Internet has got the skinny on gas grills, wood smokers and even water smokers (which aren't necessarily what you're thinking).

Over the Coals (www.vegsoc.org/Recipes/coals.html)--In the interest of fair play, however, it should be noted that there are barbecue sites in cyberspace that do not subscribe to the notion of eating dead animal flesh. Witness, for example, this page sponsored by the Vegetarian Society. If the idea of killing, cooking and consuming a pig (or at least going to Albertson's, buying a prepackaged pig slab, cooking it and consuming it) bothers you, then maybe Over the Coals is what you need. If you're an animal-loving vegetarian, but still get the urge to play with lighter fluid and matches in your backyard, then how about digging into marinated tempeh and vegetable kababs or smoked hazelnut burgers or hot barbecued Aubergine (hey, isn't that a breed of poodle?)? There aren't very many recipes here, but those that are seem easy to follow and are even a touch tempting to a confirmed carnivore like myself.


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