Sunday, June 27, 2010

So you think you know BBQ? Think again!

Sunday, June 27, 2010
Steven Raichlen is the KING of BBQ and he takes his latest book well beyond being just a collection of recipes - I mean, yes, he does have 309 recipes from over 60 countries, but this book is so much more.

This book is an EDUCATION. He goes beyond simple recipes to give you an inside look at the cultures behind different types of BBQ styles, helping to explain why certain places do BBQ the way they do. It even borders on a history / geography lesson in some parts, which I appreciate. For example, I had no idea there were two BBQ-obsessed towns in Germany with a serious BBQ rivalry going on! Idar and Obersteiner are sister towns, and the folks in Idar believe what they take off the grill is far superior to what Obersteiner folks do on the BBQ (and vice versa). Thus it's only fitting that the people in Idar call their grilled rye bread slathered with garlic/parsley/onion butter "Obersteiner Filet Mignon" - OH SNAP!

So sure, Planet Barbecue has a ton of recipes all involving the use of a BBQ, from starters, salads, grilled breads, and every imaginable type of meat straight through to desserts, but it really takes those who *think* they know BBQ to another planet entirely. You wouldn't believe how many different cuts of meat there are, how many rubs/sauces/adornments you can pair with BBQ dishes, how many methods of grilling there are and how many different types of grills there are, and Raichlen helps walk you through all of them step-by-step because he's been to all these places and experienced these dishes first-hand. There's even some love for Canada in there, with the occasional recipe from his northern neighbour.

There were hundreds of times I gasped or smiled or laughed while I was reading this book, but I managed to capture a few of my random thoughts along the way on some of the weirdest and most wonderful recipes:
  • Smoked Egg Paté - Egg salad has so much more potential than being just a sandwich filling! Israel does an interesting take on it: smoked egg paté that is served with grilled bread.

  • Lomo al trapo - This sounds like HEAVEN to me - A Colombian beef tenderloin completely encrusted with about 3 inches of salt, wrapped in cloth, and cooked in the fireplaces of Colombian homes. You actually have to break through the burnt cloth and the thick crust of salt by whacking it with a cleaver so you can get to the meat!

  • Grilled ice cream - Yes, that's right, GRILLED ICE CREAM! A tasty treat all the way from Azerbaijan.
I don't want to give all the gems away, and I feel I can't even do the book justice in a blog post - the style it's written in is so personal that you really feel like you are right by Raichlen's side experiencing each dish with him.

Go out and buy this book if you know a BBQ enthusiast and make sure they read it cover-to-cover; like I said, it's not just a recipe book, it's an education in the world's BBQ culture. It'll absolutely make their summer and yours (you might even want to pick it up before Canada Day and try throwing something aside from burgers and hot dogs on the grill). Enjoy!

Yours in food,
-Stacey

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