24 May 2009

Homage to the Weber Grill

Picture from Weber.com

We love grilling in our household. We use our grill year round and cook everything from the standard meat to artichokes to pizzas on it. So in honor of the Official Start of the Grilling Season in the United States (Memorial Day Weekend), I thought I would write about the Weber Grill.

The first Spring we spent in Switzerland we noticed the grills popping up at the local hardware stores and immediately went to purchase a Weber Grill.

We were surprised when a couple of weeks later a Swiss visitor said, "Oh, you've purchased a Swiss grill!"

Later, a German visitor proudly proclaimed it a German brand of grill.

And I was very surprised when even later I was told by an Australian that Weber is an Australian company.

Let me take this time to dispel all of this.

The familiar kettle grill was invented by George Stephen, Sr. in Palatine, Illinois in 1952. He was a welder with the Weber Brothers Metal Works and originally made the grill for just himself. Others saw it and liked it and he made a few more. The grill business took off. Eventually he purchased the company and renamed it Weber-Stephen.

I think it interesting that the Weber Marketing Department has been so successful in placing their brand that so many others swear the grill is original to their country. After all, when you visit the Weber website, it asks you to select your country and language. You can select from 29 countries and 22 languages. Pretty impressive.

But make no mistake.

The Weber Grill is 100% American!

And while we are on the topic, may I just mention something else that drives me a bit batty?

Cooking on a grill is called "grilling."

"Barbecuing" is a very specific method of cooking involving the use of spice rubs or at least a spicy sauce. Please stop using it to describe any type of cooking on an outdoor grill. (I specifically address this to the Australians out there! It's time to start saying "Throw another shrimp on the grill!")

Thank you for your attention.


rswb said...

As an Australian, I'd just like to say that we don't say "shrimp". And on a related note, we don't drink Fosters, either.

CanadianSwiss said...

According to the dictionary, there is such a thing as a barbecue (appliance) http://www.yourdictionary.com/barbecue), therefore accepted in the English language.

Expat Traveler said...

Interesting facts!

Pointless Drivel said...

I have a bit of experience in this, and just had to comment. Barbecuing refers to the method of cooking, not the addition of spices and sauces.

Barbecuing merely means something is cooked at much lower temperatures for a longer period of time. Ribs, for examnple, are cooked for anywhere from four to eight hours, or, sometimes, even more, at 250 degrees or less. When they are done, the meat literally falls off the bone. Mmmm.

And, it can be done on your Weber kettle. In fact, with the domed top and bottom, it is uniquely suited for that type of cooking. Use indirect heat with just a few coals on one side (replentished regularly) and the food on the other, and let it go. I know many people who will barbecue all day on their Webers or other similar "grills."

That, of course, refers to the Weber Kettle charcoal grill, on which you can do either direct or indirect cooking. Weber gas grills are cheap imitations of quality gas grills and, while easy to use for the occasional griller who only uses it ten or twelve times a year (once a week, on a weekend, during the summer). Serious grilling and barbecuing can be done on a gas grill, but you need a good one.

(Incidentally, the spices and rubs just aren't needed. The key to great barbecue is the right tenderness to the meat, and the right flavor to the sauce, which should NEVER be added prior to the last few minutes, otherwise it will burn. Tomato sauce and brown sugar. Happens every time.)

Having said that, the most common method of outdoor cooking is grilling: Higher temps, shorter cooking times, faster gratification.

Oh, and please, people, for the love of all that is holy, STOP FLIPPING YOUR FOOD! It needs to be turned once and once only. Cook it on one side, then turn it just to sear the other side, then take it off and let it finish for a few minutes on the counter before cutting. Otherwise, stop complaining about it being dry. Every time you flip that burger, steak, chop of piece of chicken, you are loosing juice.

You might also find it interesting that Stephens's original grill was made by welding together the bottoms of two harbor bouys.

Angela said...

Hehehe... My French friend's kids once asked if we had McDonald's and Pizza Hut in the States, and my friend who was doing research in remote regions of Papua New Guinea was offered Coke as if it were a local specialty.

wordie said...

actually, barbecuing is very much about cooking on an open fire or a portble grill and it has its roots in the Spanish barbacoa which translates roughly as 'wooden frame on posts' and this is what meat and fish were dried on.

wordie said...

posted too quickly -

just because a word has become commonly used to mean something - in your case barbecue meaning spice rubs etc - doesn't mean that it's correct. And of course there are huge differences between British English and American English.

Vic said...

It matters not the words you use, as long as it tastes good...