So I discovered salt that day; I guess I discovered grilling, too. I was 10, and it never occurred to me to shy away from the task because “I wasn’t a grill chef.” I figured out at 10 that just because you’re tossing something on a grill doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be seasoned correctly. While discussing Tracy’s dish at the picnic, we judges all downplayed how improperly seasoned and how generally poor it was lest we make it completely obvious that she’d be going home, but we all knew instantly that her dish was the weakest by far. The amount of fennel in the sausage was staggering, she served the patties on a plain bland roll, and she cooked the peppers to death, until they were mush. And that’s her version of “Italian food”? This Italian was completely taken aback by that. Overcooked rice and undercooked beans from Kevin? I was glad to see the chefs find inspiration for their “Great American Cookout” meals in flavors and dishes from so many cultures that have lent to our larger one, but the dishes they created still needed to be done well. Arnold’s lamb kofta was done well. Other Honorable Mentions? Jonathan really responded to Amanda’s grilled asparagus with the meyer lemons. And I remember in particular Ed’s spicy grilled tuna with the lentil hummus.
I wonder what I’ll decide to grill this weekend, when I get back home. Wherever you are this Fourth of July weekend, and whatever your particular culinary traditions for the holiday, have a great holiday.