Saturday, February 9, 2008

RAMBLINGS: Art vs. Science

Artistry vs. Science

The battle for the purity of a hobby is always an intense struggle by those that are immersed in the pastime. What outsiders may view as minutia is often a serious bone of contention. BBQ is no different.

As technology continues to become more available to the ‘everyman’, the benefits of that technology will be applied to every aspect of their life. Unfortunately, when that is related to BBQ it seems to be almost oxymoronic for some. For many enthusiasts, BBQ is a way to get back to a slower, less complicated time.

The question is, where do you draw the line in the sand? Technology in BBQ is certainly a grey area. Do you believe that it takes away from the artistry of Q’ing to use a digital thermometer? What about food science? How about insulated coolers to allow the meat to rest? Those are all pretty acceptable and I would be surprised to hear any complaints about them. But what about computerized venting, blackberry temperature alerts and the like? Is that pushing the envelope?

The problem is that this is a hobby. You are undoubtedly going to bring your passions into your hobby. If Bob is a tech-head and is going to merge his passion for BBQ with his passion for gadgets, who are we to frown upon it? On the other hand, BBQ is certainly not just about preparing the optimal food. It’s about a culture that links back to the start of our nation. It’s about a people and a way of thinking. It’s about a certain laid back graciousness and understated hospitality that we are helping to preserve. To a certain extent, technology does take something from that.

So what is the appropriate compromise? I believe that everyone has to make their own decision on this, but I believe that it will come down to the general good nature of the people who are involved in this great hobby. There may be a few side glances of disbelief at a neighbors hook-up at a competition, but all will be forgotten as friends and neighbors break bread, share a drink and talk about ‘Q.

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