BirdHampton Grill Master
By Glenn C. Van Bramer
A tad before the dinner hour, Squire wouter van Grompet, BirdHampton-on-a-Bay, was mulling over the notion that if ‘you are what you eat’ is true, then it must also be true that, ‘you are where you are’. This was a sobering thought for the aging 60’s’ radical who was, indeed, eating well and doing it – heaven help us! – in the Hamptons: the summer stronghold of the 1% of the 1%.
The Squire mulled. If one is gulping a few handfuls of warm muddy pond water to wash down a clump of dry grass outside a refugee camp in Southern Somalia, one is in a horrible place at a horrible time. Even Haiti looks like paradise. Another sobering thought.
But, his mulling rolled relentlessly on, if one shops at Citarella in East Hampton…dines in celebrity restaurants in Amagansett…has lobster rolls at LUNCH on the way to Montauk…picks up the mozzarella at Scotto’s in Hampton Bays…and scarfs down sweetcakes at the Bakery in Westhampton, one is clearly someone else, somewhere else. Luck of the draw. Perhaps. Perhaps not. Oh, well…
Whatever. The Squire’s depressive mulling was driven by a gnawing guilt about his new-this-season Hamptonesque lifestyle in a famine plagued world where billions of stick-thin people suffer from rampant starvation and …
“Wou..ter! Time to start the grill,” Lady Sweetpea called cheerfully from the kitchen window. The Squire of the manor had been undergoing his latest bout of mulling standing on the deck near the bird feeding station with a flute of cold, bubbly Proseco. There was a fresh-picked raspberry in the bottom of the glass. Somewhat better actually then muddy water from the pond the ox just pissed in.
“Right away, dearest,” the Squire happily assured her ladyship as he headed for his custom gray Weber Genesis 300 XT 5 burner gas grill. The Ferrari…Maserati… Lamborgini …of gas grills. van Grompet just loved..Loved!…firing up his obsessively clean cookin’ machine, anticipating the smells and sounds of sizzling fat and toasting animal flesh. Mmm Mmm Good!
You see: the Squire’s instinctive love of grilling meat is, in fact, really that: an instinct. This inbred need to put fire under one’s daily meat is driven from deep within the 2.5% of the humanpholk genome that we inherited from the Neanderthals.
That’s right: the Neanderthals. DNA 2 ½%. Basic cooking. Hack a leg off a very recently dead whatever with a piece of sharp rock and throw it into the magic of fire. Neanderthal grill masters. But, according to some French anthropologist their dry rubs and sauces left much to be desired.
Anyhoo, the Squire’s plan was to feed his oldest son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren the suburban mixed grill he knew from one experience after another they would all eat: burgers and dogs…
“No, Ramona. Hot dogs. Nathan’s eating contest. Frankfurters,” the Squire explained to Sweetpea’s largely poodle puppy. Clever little weasel.
“What did you say?” Sweetpea called, still cheerful.
“Aah…nothing.” Just talking to Ramona”.
“Sara Lynn is coming out to see you. You’re in charge.” The daughter-in-law. Not all that cheerful. She had previously expressed concern about a man of his age talking to a dog.
“Ahh…” the Squire sighed. In charge. Seldom a good thing at his stage in life. Indeed, his primary goal now was to shed responsibility like a stripper sheds her…
“Huh? Wha?” The Squire startled but recovered quickly, correctly ascertaining that his four-year-old granddaughter had snuck up behind him and was pointing to the three pinkish statuettes recently installed on the grounds of BirdHampton.
“Flamingos”, he proudly declared, “ pink flamingos.”
“They look stoopid.” A critical opinion shared by some other guests.
To be fair, the Squire considered, there is no trickier determinent of taste than garden statuary: lawn ornaments. Pink plastic flamingos, red-capped garden gnomes and patriotic whirly-gigs were, in their time, popularized and then…POOF!…culturally castigated overnight as visual shorthand for ‘tacky’…a transformation not unlike so many People Magazine – driven celebrities.