Fire up some briquettes

As regular readers know mariner is home alone for a couple of weeks. As a result of cooking only for one, he dug out his old hibachi to grill food instead of using the regular gas grill. His experience was positive enough to wonder why he hasn’t used the hibachi all along. True, it takes a bit of patience to start the briquettes but the efficiency – if only measuring that the hibachi is just outside the kitchen door – was significant. A five-gallon bucket of briquettes easily will last as long as a 7 liter LPG tank. A bucket of charcoal is about 30 pounds at an average cost of $25. A tank of LPG gas costs about the same.

The hibachi is convenient as a substitute for a campfire to cook hotdogs and make s’mores. Does anyone still have an old metal 6-cup percolator coffeepot? Make morning coffee and toast! The hibachi can substitute as a crockpot, too.

When mariner was in Taiwan, many restaurants had nothing more than a couple of ceramic style hibachis shaped like large flower pots. In Tainan mariner visited a restaurant which claimed to have the longest continuously burning hibachi fire in Taiwan. The primary menu items in these restaurants is what a crockpot or wok is used for in the U.S. Interestingly, a standard wok always seem to fit those flower pots perfectly. Genuine Chinese herbs and spices made the best stir-fries mariner has ever tasted.

Many small neighborhood restaurants were totally portable. Each morning the kitchen and seating were set up in what we would call a garage with no utilities. Customers ate outside on the sidewalk. In the evening these restaurants lit up the entire block with colorful lanterns. When the restaurant closed, everything was packed and removed leaving an empty garage. This setup method was common among many small retailers.

Being a foreigner, these kinds of social experiences were enjoyable. But alas, across from mariner’s hotel was a McDonalds. At least the food was still Asian. Mariner worked in the ‘down country’ of Taiwan. Visit the City of Taiwan on the north end and one would think they’re in New York City except everything is written in mandarin.

There are many other ways of living besides living amid Interstates and gazing at smartphones. Perhaps next our travelogue will visit Kazakhstan.

Ancient Mariner


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