For as long as I can remember, food has been a huge part of my life. And now, with my playing days behind me, food has become my passion.
As I look back on my career, I realize just how many of my tastes have changed. My very understanding of food has evolved. With this book, I hope to take the wonderful dishes that I have grown to love -- those grilling recipes that make summer amazing -- and share them with you.
I grew up in the South, where eating is everything. At the center of that eating experience was the cookout. My dad loved it -- he even made his own tub for grilling. And we'd be out there three, four days every week. Ribs and barbecue chicken every weekend. All my dad wanted was to get that grill smoking and have himself a day.
One of the dirty little secrets about growing up in the South though, with our love of hearty food and big portions: it's not exactly the healthiest way to live. The only vegetables we ate were corn and black-eyed peas. Which, at the time, was fine with me. Who likes vegetables as a kid? But at some point we all learn that you can’t eat like that forever.
As I've gotten older I’ve learned so much more about eating well and making sure that the food I eat is the right kind of fuel. Today, I like my diet to be full of lean chicken and fish, of fruits and vegetables and interesting combinations that a kid from Georgia never would have imagined. Asparagus, broccoli, spinach -- I love my greens. And now, I want to share this love with you.
Learning to find balance in your diet is vital. I'm a big Southern boy. I had to learn what foods were best for my body and how to better determine healthier portion sizes. You shouldn't eat in order to be full -- you should eat to enjoy the food and feel good about yourself when you're done. With the right-sized helping of nutritious food, you can eat a perfectly healthy meal and still enjoy it.
I owe much of my love for and knowledge of food to baseball. Baseball really is a beautiful thing. It let me travel the country, meet different kinds of people, and try unique types of food as I encountered new cultures. Take sushi, for example. I hardly even knew sushi existed as a child, but now I eat it all the time! And it wasn't until the season I played in Oakland, where a great sushi scene exists, that I grew to truly love it. I consider myself lucky to have traveled and experienced so much, to have grown up in Georgia and spent so much of my life in Chicago. With each place I've been, I've taken a bit of the culture and food with me. That's what I want to share with you in this book.
I created The Big Hurt's Guide To BBQ And Grilling for the same reason that I opened the Big Hurt Brewhouse in Berwyn, just outside of Chicago: I want to share my passion. I've learned how to enjoy these foods in a healthy way that keeps me cooking them up time and time again.
And, sure, I've still got plenty of the old- fashioned comfort food that every cookout needs. I want these fantastic recipes, ones that I've fallen in love with throughout the years, to reach as many people as possible. Whether it's a slab of ribs from the South, a juicy New York steak, or a refreshing California-style appetizer, I love them all. I hope you will, too.
-- Excerpted by permission from The Big Hurt's Guide To BBQ And Grilling by Frank Thomas. Copyright (c) 2016. Published by Triumph Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Available for purchase from the publisher, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and iTunes. Follow Frank Thomas on Twitter @TheBigHurt_35.
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