I used to work for a large magazine publisher on many national “women’s” titles, as they were called, and every summer the ones that covered food always produced a grilling issue. There was almost always a juicy burger on those covers because juicy burgers on a cover sells a grilling issue. It was part of my job to confirm that yes, it still did, over grilled ribs, for instance, and certainly over grilled vegetables. You could do well with grilled chicken, as an alternative. And without getting into a deep analysis of it here, you can simply deduce from this that people like to eat burgers and chicken, and that they find the idea of grilling those things in the summer approachable and relatable. They’d be into the cover enough to buy that grilling issue year after year in fairly predictable numbers, and if something ain’t broke with one of your best-selling issues of the year, you don’t fix it.
That doesn’t mean that the editors of the magazines didn’t want to do something different already. Of course they did. They are creative, worldly people and they don’t like repeating themselves or being boring. But it was a business, not theirs, or mine, and we did the thing for the greater good—delivering results and staying employed—not just anything we wanted.
This issue is me doing anything I want, by comparison, and I can’t help but compare since I preached burgers for 10 summers in a row. Those editors would…well I don’t know…smirk? raise an eyebrow? tell me it’s different today/online/no one is buying anything anymore anyway and we’re headed into a dark dark age pass the cheap bubbly because no one has contra dollars left…? They might notice at least that Le Sauce covers break an average of 3 of the top 5 cover rules I pointed to then. There is no chicken on or in this grilling issue, and no burger. I didn’t exclude them to be different, they are just not the things I’m most excited to grill. Those are perpetual favourites, not something I have waited for summer to make, unlike kebabs which I tend to only grill outdoors. I get excited about anything on a stick or on a bone, like those secondary grill favourites: ribs and wings, that I get to tear at with my teeth, pull at and feed myself with my fingers. I like things that benefit from a little time marinating while the coals finish smoking, and things that taste totally different when they char, which most definitely includes vegetables—do not let the summer go by without putting some marinated lettuce on the grill. I like things that are a little sugary that you let go a little too long over the flames, juuuust past caramelization, like fat slices of onion or fruit. If this was winter, I’d still tell you to make all of these recipes, because you could easily grill all of these on your stove. But passing the shrimp skewers within to someone dutifully handing you a sweaty but cold drink in a fair trade by the barbecue is just better than doing it indoors. Either way, I hope this cover compelled you to look inside. I hope the recipes compel you to grill these things, that you to have at them with your hands and enjoy them thoroughly.