MEMORIES OF GRILLING Family Traditions and Dolphins Tailgates
15 years ago when he came over for dinner, and I remember being out on the grill cooking the churrasco for him. I waited with bated breath to see if he would approve and wondered what constructive criticism he would offer. Typically, there was always a way we could improve for my grandfather — and he motivated us to become better. In this instance, it was the way I sliced the meat to serve it. He told me I had either sliced it too thick or at the wrong angle, but since he didn’t comment on the taste, I assume he liked it! Grilling also reminds me of when I was in high school and my best friend, Casey, and I would tailgate at Dolphins games. We would get tickets from Casey’s dad, drive to the game on Sunday morning, bust out our small grill, and have the best day surrounded by other tailgaters enjoying the game. We’d share in these moments with other people and feel much older than we actually were. We must have only been around 17 or 18 years old, and we didn’t have a care in the world with our little barbecue grill, posing as grown men. As we attended more tailgates, we started wanting something a little more impressive than our small grill, and that’s when we bought the bird cage. It was a huge, round, charcoal grill that came with a top to give the option for smoking or slow cooking. It looked like a 2-foot bird cage, so that’s what we called it. The thing was so large that it never kept a home for long; it was carted back and forth between my place, my mom’s house, and Casey’s. We couldn’t leave it anywhere without someone saying, “Get this thing out of my house!” It also made traveling to a tailgate pretty difficult, as it wouldn’t fit into anyone’s car except my pickup truck. This meant Casey, my in-laws, me, and anyone else who was coming had to squish
My first memory of outdoor cooking was on Noche Buena, or Christmas Eve, with my family, who had all gathered together to continue our tradition of roasting a pig in la Caja China, or the Chinese Box, which is a pig-roasting apparatus. In my first Christmastime newsletter, I talked about this family tradition, explaining that it takes days to prepare and how important it is to my family and me. I have so many good memories that revolve around this holiday and tradition that whenever I think of barbecue, they all come rushing back, and it’s hard not to smile. Roasting a pig outdoors might not come to mind for your typical barbecue celebration, but for me, the two come hand in hand. The coolest part of any type of barbecue is the social aspect, which remains an important part of the tradition. No matter the occasion, barbecues are always about making good memories and having a fantastic time with family and friends. These gatherings create moments you can cherish throughout your life, and it doesn’t matter what comes off the grill or out of la Caja China, as long as you’re surrounded by the people you love. I can still remember the first time I made a churrasco, or a skirt steak, so that my grandfather could try what I hoped would be the best one he ever ate. It was “These gatherings create moments you can cherish throughout your life, and it doesn’t matter what comes off the grill or out of la Caja China, as long as you’re surrounded by the people you love.”
together inside. But it was all for the experience that grilling gave us. There’s something about using a grill and everyone congregating together to wait for the food that makes it a special occasion. Barbecues and family tradition make up a huge part of my life, and it’s a recipe for having the best family and friend gatherings possible. I encourage you to create more memories this month with your friends and family by getting everyone together for an amazing barbecue!
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