Do you remember when the backyard grill was a solid edifice in its own right? My family never had one. We relied on shakey metal grills that, in one form or another, became the norm for a generation of outdoor cooks. However, the masonry barbecue pit was an icon of post-war America, and what I would like to know is, What happened to it? What a wonderful idea it was. I wish I had one now.
My brother has one, or I should say he has the remains of one in the backyard of his home. It sits in a back corner of his lot, as if positioned to minimize the noxious odor of steaks and ribs on the grill, covered in poison ivy and looking like the ruin of a bygone civilization, which in a way it is.
Actually, the grill-as-altar has made something of a modern-day comeback, predictably in a less soul-satisfying incarnation. The elaborate stainless steel “outdoor kitchens” available from the big-box boys, which look like a cross between Robbie the Robot and a grain silo, are—I suppose—the same idea. I say, give me the old masonry pit, complete with smoke stack. Please?