mag gary's column

My abilities as a chef are meager in comparison to what you’ll see from our region’s gourmets and gourmands in this issue of Life & Style in Southern Illinois, but don’t even think about telling me you know more about cooking on a grill.

You may actually know more. I just don’t want to hear about it.

As a griller, I do not use anything other than charcoal or wood for cooking, with a trace of charcoal lighter fluid for ignition. I follow the advice of an older gentlemen I met on the streets of Racine, Wis. He had a portable cooker he towed for a business he called Jim’s Rib Crib.

At the time, I thought my steaks, chops, brats, burgers and country pork ribs were the best around. I took one bite of Jim’s ribs — off the grill, not his lanky frame — and realized he was a master of the art of barbecue.

My previous concept for the fire — the hotter the better — was 100 percent wrong. “For barbecue, you want a fire that is cold,” Jim recommended.

Such a thing is not possible, but a cooler fire cooks the meat from the inside out, preserving the natural juices and ensuring a tasty meal. I now cook some cuts of meat so slowly — country pork ribs and brats — it can be frustrating waiting for the meal. At least that’s what my wife, Debbie, tells me.

Speaking of my wife, Debbie Luebke Metro, you’ll want to dig into the pages of this issue to check her profile of a Carterville couple and their dream home. The home of Victoria and Greg Sprehe is a beautiful and generous spread with every amenity you might consider for a home, but it’s opened so often for family, business, church and school friends it might rival the traffic of an inn. The photographs by Paul Newton are a special treat, too.

Elsewhere in the issue, you’ll find much to whet the appetites of foodie nation. Want a pizza that’s a slice above the standard pepperoni and cheese? We’ve got you covered with a closer look at gourmet pizzas and where they can be found in Southern Illinois. The story by Debbie Moore, executive director of Carbondale Convention & Tourism Bureau, a Southern Illinois foodie and cookbook author, also offers information about transforming your own pizzas into delicacies.

Still want more? We’ve got it with insightful pieces on shade gardens, a visit to Paducah’s Carson Center and the very artsy Lowertown neighborhood, along with the latest from the vines and fields by our wine and beer experts.

Let’s eat, drink and be merry!

— Gary Metro



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