This is a day a lot of people get fired up about. Somehow or another, Father’s Day and grill cooking seem to go hand in hand. You don’t have to look very far or throw a rock very hard to find cookbooks that focus on the barbecue. But great and different barbecue books? That’s something else entirely. Here are two I loved recently.
Slow Fire: The Beginner’s Guide to Barbecue is by Ray “Dr. BBQ” Lampe (NFL Gameday Cookbook), one of the acknowledged experts in the field and someone who can push barbecue prose towards poetry. “There is something magical about barbecue that makes it different from any other cuisine,” Lampe writes on the opening pages of Slow Fire (Chronicle). He takes us through Tools and Techniques, including a tour of the cookers one might encounter and aspire to. As well, Spices and Sauces are covered in some depth and if you’ve ever aspire to creating a mean rub, Lampe here takes you through it. From there you’re off to the races with the most varied barbecue offerings I’ve ever seen, including wings, ribs, steaks, chops and a whole welcome section on The Necessary Sides.
If there’s a single theme here, it’s meat with your meat, and even just surfing the photos is heady, though I acknowledge, for a certain type of reader, they might have the opposite effect. For that particular reader — and a growing number of others — there’s Grilling Vegan Style (Da Capo Life Long) by John Schlimm (The Tipsy Vegan) who could well become to non-meat grilling what Lampe is to the other kind.
That said, it’s possible Grilling Vegan Style would give Lampe a headache or a heartache. This is barbecue that Lampe and his like would probably say should never, ever be. This is bright, light, essentially healthy food an the style of the book reflects this.
I enjoyed the Grilled Tomato Suns: so easy and tasty, not to mention visually appealing. I also really like the Flame-Glazed Eggplant with Hoisin Sauce, but then I have an acknowledged soft spot for eggplant, plus it was really fun actually making my own hoisin from scratch.
Frankly, these two are likely books that should never be compared: they’re as different as fire and ice. That said, it was fun holding them side-by-side and enjoying the sub-messages of each. To my way of thinking, the books aren’t mutually exclusive, either. A lot of home grillers would find a happy place for both books. ◊
Sienna Powers is a transplanted Calgarian who lives and works in Vancouver, B.C. She is a writer and conceptual artist.