Summer in Washington: You love it or you hate it. Kind of like the durian, Southeast Asia’s most controversial fruit, with a fragrance so pungent that it’s banned on trains and planes. In today’s Food section, Julie Wan tells us about a durian grower’s crusade to win converts to his strange, spiny crop.
From Malaysia, we move on to Belgium, where Daniel Fromson has been visiting upstart brewers whose products take a cue — sometimes several — from their American counterparts. And then it’s back to Washington, where superstar chef Jose Andres has closed one restaurant and opened another: America Eats Tavern, an exploration of our country’s culinary past. Tim Carman tells us that story.
Amid this bounty of reading material, don’t forget about today’s Free Range chat. If you don't show up, it just won’t happen. Navigate our way at noon, bring your questions or comments about all things culinary, and settle in for an our with the Food staff.
Speaking of questions, here’s a leftover from a previous chat:
I’m very happy to have just purchased my first grill.However, I know nothing about cleaning it, and I’m getting conflicting information from friends and neighbors about how to do it right. Do I clean immediately after cooking, while the grill is hot? Or can I go enjoy my meal and wait to clean off the cooked-on burnt food until the next time I warm up the grill; that sounds safe enough, as the burnt-on food shouldn’t be growing bacteria, right? How about that drip tray: clean every time, or can I do it less frequently?
A great question, but my lackadaisical grill habits precluded my fielding it. Instead, for a more responsible answer, I turned to an actual expert, Smoke Signals columnist Jim Shahin. Here’s what he says:
“You are getting conflicting answers because everything in barbecue is arguable — and argued. Weber recommends that after using your grill you wait until it is warm (not hot) and scrub the grates with a hard-bristle brush. That’s ideal, as it discourages pests. But many folks let the grill sit until the next use and, over high heat, scrub the grates. That, actually, is what I do most of the time. Then I take a clean rag and give the grates a good wipe.
“Some will argue that I am removing the seasoning. Far from it. I am removing the built-up carbon and the grease. There is still plenty of seasoning left in the grill itself and even on the grates.
“As for the drip tray, remove it as soon as it’s cool enough to handle. The grease accumulated in it can attract flies and varmints. Plus, It’s just a nasty thing to have to do before you begin your next cook. Better to get it over with.
“Clean out the ash no later than the next time you use your grill. (Sometimes I remove the ash the day after I grill, even though I might not grill again for several days.) It’s easier that way: doesn’t crust onto the grill. Plus, there is moisture in ash, which can harm your grill and reduce its life.”
Thanks to the chatter, who asked a question that’s probably on a lot of minds right now, and thanks to Jim for the answer.