Badger Trowelsworthy writes in to pose an ethical question.
All who grovel before The Throne of Skulls are quick to voice agreement with Your Inscrutable Self but in the matter of chimney starters for charcoal my affirmation is sincere, not merely a matter of self preservation.
But I make bold to ask guidance on this matter.
Chimney starters require newspaper to work. Are not the discriminating palates of the Gormogons able to detect faint off-tastes and odors? If one imprudently used the New York Times for instance a few column inches of Krugman or Friedman might suffice to ruin not only a fine steak but could perhaps render the entire grill fit only for heating various implements of minion persuasion….
Or do you retain a stash of vintage newspapers dating from a time of literary excellence and thoughtful partisanship? I would imagine the ideal combination would be a page from the old New York Daily Sun with a don marquis Archie and Mehetibel entry, perhaps accented by a few strips of robust Hearst yellow press.
Begging forgiveness for the intrusion and glancing nervously at the implements of minion (and not filet mignon) adjustment….
You missed a pun with “fileted minion,” there. So close it hurts.
There are three answers to consider with your letter, as there are some implied questions. The Czar isn’t too sure whether you’re asking one or all three, so from one grill aficionado to another, we shall answer all three.
First, you don’t need to use newspaper with a chimney starter; many folks use paraffin wax with them. The Czar however does use newspaper, and can assure all that modern newspaper uses a non-toxic, vegetable-based ink and fairly thin paper. Using newspaper to ignite a chimney starter will pose no ill-tastes or flakes of ash in the food: the charcoal, once it ignites, burns at a higher temperature than the newspaper, and thus completely consumes it before your food really should touch the grates of the grill.
Now, whether or not the content is allowable…frankly, the Czar can’t think of a better use for any major metropolitan newspaper than setting fire to it in order to produce something of value. The idea of using a Paul Krugman piece to produce a thick New York strip steak for you and Mrs. Trowelsworthy is righteous enough, one suggests. At least somebody is doing something of value with it.
Third, personally, the Czar tends to use old copies of Wisconsin Outdoor News, to which his neighbor subscribes. Our retired neighbor gets these every other week, reads them, and dutifully brings them over in small stacks to our home.* The Czar eagerly peruses them—there are surprisingly good articles on preparing and cooking game meats, as well as other weird news from around the country—and, when finished, uses three pages of it per chimney starter. Perfect size sheets, too. Frankly, it would be nice if All the News That’s Fit To Print and Democracy Dies in Darkness followed the editorial approach of the Wisconsin Outdoor News, as their subscription numbers would surely climb.
However, you should feel free to use a newspaper of your choice. And if you’re reading the Times, and Paul Krugman says someone needs to do something immediately to kill these economy-fueling tax cuts, you should’t hesitate to announce, “I know exactly what to do!” and grab some ribeyes from the icebox and your chimney starter from wherever you keep it. “Honey, Paul Krugman says there isn’t a moment to lose,” you scream out, as you stuff his call-to-action into the underside of the chimney starter. “These ribeyes won’t grill themselves,” you announce, wondering if you have any beer left.
Incidentally, for our regular readers, the Czar does not recommend the use of a chimney starter if you have a gas grill.
*By dutifully, we mean he volunteers to bring these back issues over. We don’t ask him to. He also brings over every catalog, magazine, and flyer he gets as well. Come to think of it, we throw away an awful lot of his mail for him. What the hell is he up to?