"Nowadays, we have so many choices when it comes to what we cook outdoors," he says. "Even hot dogs are varied! But it's not just hamburgers and hot dogs anymore." Art remembers the fun he and his neighbors had when he taught them how to "throw naan," a type of Indian hearth bread, using the tandoor oven. And as exciting as food cooked outdoors might be, the meal itself tends to be unhurried and casual. "People expect nothing more than something hot off the grill," he says. "And then all you need is a salad and maybe some cookies and fruit." What's more, he continues, everyone is attracted to the grill "like moths to light," so just the act of firing it up tends to be communal.

"We're also drawn to the craft of it," Art says. "By this, I mean you have to think about the wood or the charcoal, the heat intensity, the grill marks on the food." He admits these challenges seem to attract middle-aged men more than some other demographics. This country boy who grew up in rural Florida muses that when you live with as much concrete as he and so many other Americans do in cities and populated suburbs, "You yearn for green, but that doesn't mean you want a farm." The idea of spending time out of doors, cooking, eating, and visiting, is overwhelmingly appealing.

"We dug up the concrete in the condo's backyard for the kitchen, and let me tell you: It's the focal point of our little community." The good thing about the outdoors is that it's big enough for everyone.

Art Smith's Recipes
Excerpted from O, The Oprah Magazine Cookbook. Copyright © 2008 Hearst Communications, Inc. Published by Hyperion. All Rights Reserved. Available wherever books are sold and online via


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