When I was 4 years old and our family was new to the neighborhood, I followed my nose, climbing a fence to peer down wide-eyed and hungrily into a barbecue celebration.
A woman smiled and handed me a chicken wing, which I happily accepted. When my parents discovered how I happened to get barbecue sauce on my face and clothes, they were alarmed and embarrassed by my audacity. But that’s how we met our neighbors, with whom we would go on to share many outdoor meals.
Those summer neighborhood gatherings were simple — a barbecue pit, paper plates and lots of napkins. We pulled icy canned drinks from a well-worn Igloo. My siblings and I were enlisted as couriers, running back and forth from the indoor kitchen to the backyard carrying salt, pepper, onions, iced tea, aluminum foil and whatever else my Dad, who was captain of the grill, needed.
Long gone are the days when I’d appear uninvited at someone’s backyard gathering hoping for a handout. But as islander Alex Gonzalez prepared a feast in his beautiful outdoor kitchen for this issue’s cover photo, I stared at it wide-eyed and hungrily.
A consummate Texan, Gonzalez shared the delicious meal. As the Coast Monthly crew enjoyed delectable grilled snapper, crab claws and shrimp, I couldn’t help but think how beautifully outdoor cooking and the amenities supporting it have evolved.
There was something essentially coastal, hospitable, inviting and relaxing about every outdoor kitchen we visited for this issue. And that’s the whole point. Whether your outdoor kitchen consists of a simple Big Green Egg or is an elaborate affair with built-in grills, sinks and bar centers, we wish you much outdoor-dining enjoyment and a happy summer.