My long-standing low-grade desire for a Big Green Egg kicked into high gear recently, when restaurant critic Ian Froeb reviewed a restaurant that specializes in food cooked on one. He asked if I had ever cooked on one and I said I had not — and I could literally feel my face getting flush and my heart racing at the thought of it.
What was merely high-gear lust became turbo-charged as my birthday approached. Somehow, the idea of a Big Green Egg was tossed around as a possible present.
I drooled. I broke out into a sweat. My heart danced a tango.
And then we did a little research and determined that a Big Green Egg, along with a stand for it to be placed on, costs somewhere in the neighborhood of $1,000.
I got some beautiful clothes instead.
One thousand dollars is a lot of dollars to spend on what is essentially a glorified grill. You put hot charcoal in the bottom of it, food in the top and cover it, and the food cooks.
So why the $1,000? For that matter, why the lust?
If the hype is to be believed, and apparently I believe every delectable word of it, the Big Green Egg is more than just a grill. You can use it to cook, grill, roast, smoke or bake your food.
And yes, I know you can do all of those with any ordinary grill with a cover. But the Egg, by its reputation (possibly created by the people who make it), is a Supergrill when all other grills are just Clark Kents.
And actually there is a difference. Big Green Eggs are kamado grills, which means they are made with a ceramic interior. The considerable weight of the ceramic means they retain their heat and do not require much charcoal to get and keep them hot.
The heavy lid keeps in moisture and heat, while vents in the top and bottom allow you to control the temperature with what is apparently considerable precision. The vents, along with the ceramic interior, also allow you to get the egg extremely hot — hotter than any residential oven.
Think of what that means for steak. Think of what it means for pizza.
But thinking about it is all I can do. Not only have I never cooked on a kamado grill, I have never had food that was cooked on one. Everything I think about it, all the reasons for my lust, are purely speculative and hypothetical.
Though clay pots and ceramic cookers have been around for thousands of years, a Dutch chef named Jeroen Hazebroek traces the origin of the modern kamado grill back to around 1900, in Japan.
The Japanese have been using kamados ever since then, initially as rice cookers. American soldiers after World War II realized they could be used as grills, and they have been made in America since the end of the war. And because they hold low temperatures for a long time, they are perfect for American barbecue.
You can buy other versions of kamado grills, and they cost a lot less than the Big Green Egg. Some of the cheaper ones are said to have a tendency to crack in the intense heat, but others are certainly just as good, or close to it.
I don’t care. My lust cannot be sated with a cheap imitation, or even an expensive one. When you have lust in your heart, only a real Big Green Egg will do.