Put that bakin’ hot sun to some good use

By Steve Estes

Strictly Drivel

A very common refrain these days from even the longest-term locals is that it’s very hot.

True, in my experiences here August and then September is usually the hottest month, with the highest relative humidity. For those of us who enjoy heat for both personal and medicinal reasons, a simple smile and nod of the head is the usual answer to this complaint.

But, when those slightly warped synapses get to working inside those slightly warped brains (most of us who live here and enjoy it have to be somewhat warped) there are many other answers that come to mind.

If the heat is really such a prime topic of conversation, why not start playing off the heat?

For instance. When someone tells me it’s so hot you could fry an egg on the sidewalk, I get the idea to sponsor a cooking competition.

Each contestant can pick out their favorite niche of sun-drenched concrete sidewalk, or better yet, sun-drenched asphalt, and set to making a meal.

We could toss a square of foil on the sidewalk/roadway that would serve as a grilling surface. Each contestant would receive one stick of sun-melted butter or margarine, a glass of sun-warmed water and the exact same ingredients.

Just for kicks, let’s use the morning sun for eggs and bacon and the afternoon sun for burgers on buns and fried potatoes.

The first one to complete the meal, in an edible fashion, would be declared the winner. Why, we could even devise our own sidewalk/roadway cookbook. Think what a great gift that would make for our friends and relatives who live in places that are really hot, like New York City in August when there’s no breeze and people die.

Or perhaps in Arizona or New Mexico when the daytime temperatures reach 100-plus on a regular basis.

We could even expand our offerings, checking out the ability of a flat rock surface to provide sun-fuled heat for cooking food.

And just so we can put the best of two worlds together, we could make the meat to be cooked a fresh, road-kill iguana. That would give folks an incentive to help rid our islands of what many consider an unnecessary pest, and provide a level cooking field for all our contestants.

Heck we could incorporate the iguana hunt into the celebration and add points for the biggest cooked iguana, or the oldest.

The really creative could bring along a small garden shovel and hollow out a space in the soft asphalt to use as an oven. Imagine if you will the mouth-watering pavement pies that could be created in that invection setting.

For our concrete contestants, a second square of foil would serve the same purpose, setting up heat reflective surfaces for that oven effect.

Now I for one have never attempted to take the temperature of sun-heated asphalt or concrete, other than with the bottom of my feet (which I have to admit is not a recurring thing with me), but the temperatures might get high enough to slowly sizzle eggs and meat. I’m sure it gets hot enough to toast bread after a fashion.

Of course, there is one distinct drawback to using man-made surfaces, traveled-on surfaces, for cooking food.

Remember I said we’d decide the winner by the first one to finish the meal in an edible fashion. Now I like my meat well done or close to it. My son-in-law on the other hand, prefers his meat sizzled, flipped and pulled. One is not edible to me, the other is not edible to him.

OK so we settle on medium as the target.

For the eggs, they would all have to be cooked hard because there are too many interpretations of over easy and over medium to make an opinion credible. The potatoes would have to be done enough to be soft to qualify.

There would be no limit to the spices and accessories one could use, after all, each taste is a little different from person to person, and this is a cooking contest after all.

Now there is still one very grave question that remains about how we bring this contest to a successful conclusion.

Is there anyone out there, anyone at all, that knows anyone, anyone at all, that would be willing to serve as a judge?

With a taste test?

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