Here's the perfect summer grilling accessory: a baseball bat that's actually a peppermill. Imagine the languorous backyard, the coals glowing in the firepit, Vin Scully broadcasting on a radio propped against the sweating keg, a tray of burgers and steaks and links that would make any self-respecting carnivore weep in anticipation. And now you won't look effete when grinding Tellicherry or Sarawak peppercorns over a platter of grilled eggplant and lamb kebabs.
A thunderstorm of freshly ground pepper can aid and abet outside food almost as well as hot sauce, and there's no need to restrain yourself to the standard vials of grocery store peppercorns either.
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Pepper can have enormous flavor variations, with the kind of descriptors (caramel, citrus, whatever) that a wine or coffee geek would appreciate. If you head over to Penzeys Spices, in Santa Monica or Torrance, you can find not only the Tellicherry and Sarawak varieties, but Muntok White and Malabar Indian.
Or pick up some Szechuan peppercorns, which have a terrific fruity flavor as well as heat, the next time you're at 99 Ranch: you can get a packet the size of a first base bag for only a few bucks.
A baseball bat peppermill is an almost perfect kitchen tool, a manly accouterment that can double as home-invasion deterrent, Little League emergency spare, and cocktail party conversation starter. Best of all, it works as both visual aid and object lesson for when your kid asks about the future of Major League Baseball. Just in time for the July 4th holiday weekend--and tomorrow's return of Manny Ramirez.