Steve and I own a black Fiesta grill. I have an emotional attachment to the Fiesta because I watched it survive total destruction one morning. It's a fighter, this grill.
We purchased the grill in early June 2005, a few months after we bought our house. In the sunny hours after work, we sat in the pool, listening to the happy sizzle of steak and tilapia en papillote.
As the summer eased into autumn, the heat remained but the daylight receded. Soon, I was leaving work at twilight. We began to cook dinner indoors again. We thought that the grill would be a weekend item until the following May. We were wrong.
Hurricane Wilma hit the west coast of Florida on the morning of October 24, 2005, one day after our first wedding anniversary. Steve and I put up our hurricane shutters over the windows that are not made of impact-resistant glass, and tucked our grill into our heavy metal garden shed. I'm glad that we did, because instead of weakening, the storm actually drew power as it roared east across the Everglades.
The power flickered once, then died as the storm approached. We were slammed by the eye wall winds and from our bedroom window (made of hurricane impact glass, thanks to the previous owners--no really, thank you), we watched the walls of our garden shed crumple and take flight. A large plant stand scraped along the side of our house like something out of a horror movie, then collapsed on top of the contents of our destroyed shed.
After a piece of someone's gutter smacked the glass an inch away from my nose, I spent the rest of the storm cowering with my face in my hands.
Once the sun emerged and the winds relaxed, we ventured outside, blinking in the brightness. Mercifully, our neighborhood sustained only minor damage, our neighbors themselves were unharmed and our house was fine.
Our beloved grill was pinned under the heavy wood frame of the plant stand. After an hour of tense negotiations, we were able to extricate the grill and set it upright. My father, who came to Fort Lauderdale for a visit right before the storm hit, held the propane tank under the scummy water of our pool for thirty seconds to check for leaks. Finding that no bubbles were escaping from the canister, he attached it to the grill and turned it on. It was dinner time, after all.
Now I'm not going to bore you with a description of my many, many anxieties. Those will manifest themselves in my writing on their own, I'm sure. Let's just say that I was convinced--convinced--that the propane tank had cracked and that the merest flicker of flame from a match would kill us all in a gruesome explosion.
Steve, who is untroubled by the same neuroses as I, suggested that I go in the house while he and my dad lit the grill. He did not believe there was any danger. I refused to leave, telling him that if we were going to die in a fireball, we'd die together. I actually said this while clinging to his arm.
Exasperated or amused--or touched by my wifely devotion to him?--he tentatively lit a match, then tossed it on the grill. With a gentle fwoosh, the grill came to life.
We cooked salt-seasoned ribs given to us by a generous neighbor, licking warm, tangy bar-b-que sauce from our fingers as the sun set. The following morning, we boiled water in a saucepan and made coffee in a French press.
The propane lasted through the next two weeks of meals--pasta, soup, and other canned fare--until our power was restored. If I could have grilled bathwater, I would have done so. A cold shower, even in warm South Florida, is still a cold shower.
Several years later, the grill still produces some wonderful meals.
Mahi Mahi with Cold Udon Noodles
A Fritter Original
For the Fish
2 1/2 pounds mahi mahi, skinned and divided into six equal portions
1/2 cup of Tamari soy sauce
2 teaspoon hot sesame oil
1 tablespoon of fresh ginger, thinly sliced
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 green onions, sliced
1/8 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
juice of 1/2 of a lime
For the noodles
2 pounds of udon noodles
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 1/2 pounds of snow peas, blanched
4 scallions, thinly sliced
4 green onions, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 cup chicken stock
1 pound fresh shitake mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup of Tamari soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon of hot sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
juice of 1 lime
1/8 cup of black sesame seeds, toasted
To prepare the fish
Place fish in a 9x13 baking dish. Combine all ingredients for the marinade and pour over fish. Cover with plastic wrap and allow the fish to marinate, refrigerated, for 45 minutes.
Heat the grill to medium-high. Place the fish on the grill and hood the grill for 8-10 minutes, until the fish is nearly opaque. Flip the fish and cook for another 3-5 minutes. Remove the fish to a platter and cover.
To prepare the noodles
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the udon noodles and boil for 10 minutes, until al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water, then transfer to a large serving bowl.
Toss the noodles with the snow peas and red bell pepper slices.
Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add one sliced clove of garlic and saute for 3 minutes, until the garlic is fragrant and beginning to turn gold. Add the chicken stock, bring to a boil, and reduce for 5 minutes. Lower the heat to medium, add the shitake mushrooms and simmer for 5 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender.
In a small mixing bowl, combine the soy sauce, hot sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, the remaining clove of garlic, and the lime juice. Stir to combine. Pour over the noodles and toss to coat. Top the noodles with the black sesame seeds.