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Saturday, Sept. 1, 2007


Adding insult to hot air at the Japanese BBQ

Some people blame global warming on farting cows, others blame it on farting vehicles. I blame it on Japanese BBQs.

The Japanese still use charcoal to heat their BBQs, so on any given day during the summer, hundreds of thousands of people will be emitting carbon into the air while screaming "Oishii (delicious)!"

Why you would choose a hot beach on a 40 C day for a BBQ as opposed to an ice-cool shady spot in the forest, I'm not sure, but perhaps it's easier to start a BBQ on the beach if you forget to bring matches. Wait long enough and it will self-start.

The Japanese-style BBQ requires everyone in the group to huddle around the BBQ grilling small pieces of meat and vegetables, thus exposing everyone to temperatures over 40 degrees. The good thing is that you don't have to worry if you forget to bring the salt, since you'll be sweating all over the grill anyway.

But if global warming continues and next year is even hotter, I fear total combustion and a complete disappearance of the beach.

Of course, one way to preserve the beach and the atmosphere would be if people would start taking their cows with them to the beach. While roasting Elsie on the BBQ, Daisy could be cow-powering the BBQ with her own methane — a true natural gas BBQ.

But when it comes to Japanese BBQs, the Japanese don't seem very willing to try new things. I had friends over to my house the other day for an Australian BBQ with large steaks grilled on an LPG liquid petroleum gas-powered grill. I prefer this style of BBQ mainly because the man is in charge of the grilling while everyone else sits around and drinks beer.

When my friends arrived, the Japanese women assembled in the kitchen and said, "What can we do?"

"Nothing at all," I said, smiling and handing them each a beer.

They looked disappointed. "Can't we help cut up vegetables?" they asked.

"I've already made a potato salad and a green salad," I assured them.

"No vegetables to cut up?" They were dismayed. "Do you want us to run to the store to get some?"

"No, need," I assured them. But this lack of vegetables had put them into quite a funk.

"Ok, just a few," I finally said.

Then came: "Get cabbage. And carrots!"

"Do you have pumpkin on the island?"

In a matter of seconds, the Aussie BBQ had morphed into something more Japanese than Western, much like Japanese-English.

And when these Japanese things happen, I don't fight them. I just open a beer, and take a back seat.

"What's going on in here?" said my husband, walking in to an assembly line of middle-aged, knife-wielding women. This sight was the biggest insult to the Aussie man and his BBQ.

I shrugged, opened him a beer and suggested he take a back seat with me.

Then came the inevitable: "Where is the tare?''

"You don't need BBQ sauce for Aussie steaks," said my husband.

The women went into another funk. "What about the vegetables!"

I have never bought tare but most Japanese people bring some with them when they come. Since we usually don't use it again after the guests leave, my refrigerator is full of jars of the stuff.

I opened the refrigerator and took out a jar. I remembered fondly the Maruyamas, who brought this jar. Actually, that was quite a while ago. Better check the expiration date. Hmm. . . 2005.

"Ehhhhh?" said the ladies.

I picked out another bottle from the refrigerator. Oh yes, the bottle the Saitos brought. . . oh dear, expiration date: 2003!

"Ehhhhh?" said the ladies in unison. This was really getting embarrassing.

Finally, I went for the last bottle. The bottle that, gosh, I can't remember who brought. Expiration date 2001! Six years in my refrigerator!

"Ehhhhh?"The ladies were in a complete funk now. There was one more bottle hiding in the very back corner of the refrigerator, but I decided to give it a miss.

This time, when my husband said, "We don't need BBQ sauce for an Aussie BBQ," they completely agreed.

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