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Monday, May 10, 2010

Open Fire

I had the pleasure of escaping the bustle of NYC, for a tent and a stream. While my friends and I sat around the fire, and drank to many beers, we discussed many subjects. One being how wonderful food is when graced with the smokey scent of burning wood. What is it? Of course, it is that carnal feeling of sitting outside, kind of dirty, warmed by an open flame. It made us feel almost primal. But that is only part of it. A restaurant that cooks in a wood fired oven provides a similar satisfaction.
This is how man first cooked, before charcoal, gas, or oil. Wood is what they had. Maybe through genetics, the desire for these scents have stayed with the human race deep in the genealogy of our being. Is it the chemical change that occurs between cells, the smoke, and open heat? Yup, hundreds of different flavor compounds are created. These compounds, break down to form yet more new flavor compounds, and so on. Each type of food has a very distinctive set of flavor compounds that are formed during the Maillard reaction and the addition of smoke. I am no scientist, so lets simplify it and just say that it is good. Plain and simple. It adds a nuance to food that artificial flame simply can never provide. People have tried to simulate it with poor products like liquid smoke, but it simply can not be matched. It is intrinsic.
So tis the season and get those grills out, be it on a fire escape, a hibachi inside a gutted air conditioner hanging out you're window, or a backyard, get to it because it makes even the most discernible diner happy!

Disclaimer: Not written by Robert Tremblay
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