Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Humble Hibachi



After 20-some years, my original Hibachi charcoal barbeque has finally rusted through.  I've salvaged the racks, rack holders and handles as spare parts for my back-up Hibachi I picked up some years ago at a yard sale.  Those cast iron items are easily broken, so it's good to have spares.

I always thought that "Hibachi" was a trademark.  Turns out its just the Japanese word for "fire bowl", something of a misnomer.  The actual word the Japanese use for this kind of heating device is "shichirin" but it has been suggested that this word was discarded for English-language marketing as too difficult to pronounce. They're probably right--go the Wikipedia entry to hear how this is pronounced.  I'd stick with "Hibachi."

The Hibachi barbeque replaced the charcoal-gobbling flying-saucer barbeques of the 1960's.  Those suckers could take a whole bag of charcoal to cook a few steaks.  By contrast, my Hibachi would give me many uses before a single charcoal bag was empty.  And Hibachis were cheap!

During the time I've owned my Hibachi, those huge gas barbeques gained ascendancy.  I can't tell you how many of those I've seen put out for free at the ends of driveways, representing a disgraceful waste of material and resources.  In contrast, my Hibachi will go back to the scrap metal container at the local ReStore to be easily recycled into something else.

The latest things to go along with those huge gas barbeques are outdoor living rooms--people replicate all of their indoor furniture outside. Bizarre.  Soon to be yet more land fill.  Still, conspicuous consumption doesn't seem to be in any danger of foundering.

Hibachi-style barbeques are still being offered in retail outlets, but my experience is that the cast iron is much thinner than the original. Mind you, you can find high-end Hibachis selling for $250 or so, but that seems only something you'd buy if you're one of those people who have a constant need to impress.

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