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Sunday, December 16 , 2018, 1:26 pm | Fair 64º


Captain’s Log: Enjoying the Outdoors with a Barbecue

Gathering for food and fun, whether at home or at the beach, is a great summer pastime

When I drive down a residential street during the late afternoon or early evening, about one in six houses appears to be on fire, judging from the billowing smoke sometimes engulfing the house.

Capt. David Bacon
Capt. David Bacon (Ramona Lisa McFadyen photo)

I have reached for my cell phone on more than one occasion, before deciding that these fires smell more like burning tri-tip than burning houses. I wonder how many calls our fire stations get as a result of smoky barbecues.

There is something special about a family or neighborhood barbecue that really brings out the clan-family-village-tribe-community instinct in us. I believe we have very deep needs for this type of food and fun gathering. It is a time to turn off the TV, step away from the computer and take part in more basic social activities from time immemorial.

The pleasant tasks are associated with food and drink preparation, and they all kind of work together. Meat needs to be trimmed and soaked in a marinade, accompanying dishes prepared, and tables set or buffet counter set up. The barbecue needs to be fired up and adjusted and the meat cooked — and all the while everyone communicates, so the timing is good. It is a workable (usually) social system that we can all feel good about being a part of.

It seems to me that we are having a perfect barbecue summer. The marine layer usually dissipates by afternoon. It may creep overhead to cool us off again, but for the most part we are enjoying a season made for shorts and Ts or summer dresses. During warm weather, it just seems uncomfortable to turn on the kitchen oven or even the stovetop. Barbecuing keeps the heat of cooking outdoors and makes the home a bit more pleasant.

Many homes in the Santa Barbara area don’t have air conditioners, and they rely on fans when needed. Taking the heat of cooking outdoors on a hot day just makes perfect sense.

Some folks prefer to get out of the house and down the road to barbecue. I spend a lot of time at the harbor because I have a charter business there. Driving along the nearby beaches in the late afternoon is a kick because every barbecue device on the beach is in use, and some folks are using hibachis and camp stoves.

I appreciate the prevailing spirit of getting outdoors and enjoying this great summer season. It feels good to be outdoors. This is prime people-watching season, and family and friends have fun hanging out together with a cold one in one hand, good grub in the other and a smile on their faces.

There is one thing I just don’t understand, though. You see, I’m just not a hot dog person. I don’t much like the taste of them. I must confess, though, that when driving along the beach, the hot dogs seem to smell better than anything else. What’s up with that?

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit softininc.blogspot.com to learn more about the organization and how you can help.

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