When we moved to the suburbs 22 years ago, a superhero was born. He couldn’t leap tall buildings with a single bound, but not long after we moved in, my husband became empowered with delusions of barbeque grandeur. He took on the alter ego, Super Grillman, had his own monogrammed, titanium grill tools case, and wore a costume, or rather, an apron, in red, white, and blue imprinted with an “S” and a “G” on it.
Not content to practice his craft on your everyday, run-of-the-mill grill, he let the grill gurus at the grill store talk him into something they called the Pinnacle of Grill Greatness because it could grill, smoke, or rotisserie your meat to perfection. It was truly the grill of the gods, and my husband, no longer a mere mortal, was now akin to Thor, the god of thunder, or in this case, the god of BTUs. Instead of a hammer, my husband ruled with a mighty spatula.
Super Grillman was blissful in his grill existence. But then the unthinkable happened. We moved to the city, and sadly, found out they don’t allow grills on the balconies of high-rise apartments. Something about a fire code and the risk of burning the whole building down, or whatever. Suddenly, Super Grillman was out of a job.
“It’s not me I’m worried about,” he said. “It’s you. You will never again know the joy of my exceptional barbecue.”
I decided that now would not be the best time to tell him that more often than not, his exceptional barbecue presentations looked less like a medium rare burger and more closely resembled a charcoal briquette.
Still, I felt bad that Super Grillman was now a superhero without a cause.
Hoping to find a way for him to exercise his superpowers in our new kitchen, I consulted some cookbooks and websites to learn how to get that burnt barbecue goodness without a barbecue.
This is when I found out about the cast-iron pan. Apparently, once you season it (which involves oiling it and baking it a number of times) you can get a similar sear on your meat that you could get on a barbecue. I was thrilled that my husband would be able to get the same grill satisfaction he’d had in the ‘burbs. I figured, this is exactly the way they used to do it in the wild, wild west, and if it was good enough for Billy the Kid, it was good enough for Super Grillman. My husband, however, was dubious.
“I don’t know,” he said reluctantly. “Super Cast Iron Pan Man just doesn’t have the same ring to it.”
“Just think of it as expanding your galactic grilling empire,” I advised him.
So, one day, Super Grillman went to the local butcher and bought two nice steaks. He fired up the cast-iron pans and set out his steaks for their sear. Everything was looking great until we realized the apartment had begun to fill with smoke. We opened all the windows, but to no avail. Within minutes, the smoke alarm began blaring and we could not figure out how to turn it off. And then the dog began howling along with the smoke alarm. We knew it was mere moments before the super police came in and gave us a super citation for disturbing the peace.
But just then our doorbell rang. I opened it to see our new neighbor standing there with a broom. She came into our apartment, swung the broom at the smoke alarm. and knocked it off the ceiling. Then she calmly walked over to the still blaring smoke alarm and removed the battery.
“Wow, Thank you so much!” I said. “How did you know what to do?”
She gestured across the hall into her apartment where I could see a man in an apron fussing about in her kitchen.
“Allow me to introduce my husband,” she said. “Super Stir Fry Man.”
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