Friday, July 29, 2005


Pasted below is an unedited reproduction of the email that I sent to Weber Barbeque's Customer Support Department last night after, perhaps, one too many glasses of wine.

With all due sincerity, I've been a hard-core fanatic of Weber's products for over twenty years—which makes my current dilemma all the more painful.

Dear Weber Customer Support:

I am an American citizen living in Spain. What does that mean? It means that I understand the importance of smoked brisket, yet live in a country that doesn't.

Still, I wasn't worried. Why? Because I knew that once I had a Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker, I could simply smoke all the brisket that I needed.

But I was wrong. I contacted A.N.M.I. (Weber's distributor in Spain) and naively asked, "Which of your retailers sells Weber Smokey Mountain Cookers?"

Their response: "We don't sell Smokey Mountain Cookers in Spain."

Let me repeat this so that you fully comprehend the magnitude of my problem: WEBER'S SPANISH DISTRIBUTOR DOESN'T IMPORT SMOKEY MOUNTAIN COOKERS!

As I struggle to control my emotions at this moment, I'd like to ask you for some advice: How can I get my hands on a Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker?!!! Is there anything you can do to help? Is there any string that you can pull?! Is there any rule that you can bend?! C'mon! I'm not asking for a case of Cuban cigars sent to Cincinnati! Or a personalized walking tour of Sacramento by Roman Polanski! All I want is to obtain (and PAY for) a Smokey Mountain Cooker for my home in Spain.

Don't help me for commercial reasons. HELP ME FOR HUMANITARIAN REASONS!!!

My fate is in your hands. Save me from a lifetime of baked chicken breast!!!

Any advice on your part would be most appreciated.

Humbly yours,
Sal DeTraglia
I'll keep you posted about any response that I receive.


At 11:58 PM, Anonymous Culinary Fool said...

Desperate times call for desperate measures.... and there's nothing like a few glasses of wine to raise the deperation level, as I know too well. Oh wait, we're not talking about dating here are we?? ;-)

So what does Weber sell in Spain - giant paella pans?

~ B

At 9:16 PM, Blogger christina said...

Found your blog at ChicagoKarl's and thought I'd stop by to say hi from Germany.

I need to learn Spanish by next week. Any tips?

At 3:00 PM, Blogger Sal DeTraglia said...

Hi Christina:

Thanks for checking in. It seems that my acquaintance with ChicagoKarl is already paying dividends. need to speak Spanish in one week. No problem. You only need two words:

1. No.
2. Venga.

"No" means, of course, "no." It's a universal word with many other possible applications.

For example, "no" can mean "no way, Jose!" Or..."no?" can mean "Is that not true?" Or "no" can mean "I agree with your negative opinion on the matter."

The word "Venga" is even more versatile. Literally, it is the subjunctive and/or imperative form of the verb "to come." But Spaniards seem to use it for everything.

There is a little old man in town that I often pass while walking around. I say "Hola" and he says "Venga!"

It gets worse. I've had full conversations with other Spaniards where only the word "venga" was used. I distinctly recall one such incident with a former co-worker in Barcelona. His discourse was comprised of the following, "Venga!...venga, venga."

I have no idea how any of this is interpreted, but methinks it matters little.

So...when your guests from Spain arrive next week, just great them with the following: "Venga!!! Venga," charge for that master-class in philology, Christina. Thanks for stopping by. Visit often.

And...oh yeah..."Take off, eh!"


At 6:53 PM, Blogger Angie said...

You should have someone buy it for you in the U.S. and ship it. That is, if cost is no option. ;-) But I mean, this sound like a life-or-death situation, so venga, hombre, you gotta do what it takes, no?

At 6:55 PM, Blogger Angie said...

You should have someone buy it for you in the U.S. and ship it. That is, if cost is no option. ;-) But I mean, this sounds like a life-or-death situation, so venga, hombre, you gotta do what it takes, no?

At 8:44 PM, Blogger Sal DeTraglia said...

Indeed I do, Angelina. Great minds think alike, as you will see when I get around to posting the response I received from Weber's Customer Support dude.

Just to prove how serious I am about this, I've spent a few hours trolling the Internet for tips on how to build my own smoker. Unfortunately, it seems that a certain amount of welding skill is required.

Now, I'm certainly not opposed to learning how to weld. In fact, it would pay dividends in the long run (i.e., I've been watching American Chopper on my satellite dish lately, and have quite an urge to build an Easy Rider/Captain America model in my basement...despite the fact that I've never actually driven a motorcycle in my life). However, I calculated the costs and--when you factor in the fire damage that my house would surely suffer within the ten minutes after placing a blowtorch in my hand--it would be cheaper for me to buy the damn thing, ship it from Chicago to Spain, and buy a bottle of Cardhu for whichever unfortunate bastard I ultimately volunteer for the task.

I appreciate your moral support, Angie. You obviously understand the unbreakable bond between a man and his rack of baby-back ribs.


At 10:29 PM, Blogger christina said...

Thanks, Sal! I'll definitely try out the "venga!. Up until now, my Spanish has consisted of "Dos cervesas, por favor" and I doubt that's going to get me very far since none of our visitors are waiters.

My husband is one of those types who actually *has* welded bits and pieces (brought back from vacation in Canada) onto our grill (not a Weber...yet). He has also made a smoker or two. House is still standing.

At 10:37 PM, Blogger Sal DeTraglia said...


For posting two comments, you win...a link on my sidebar.

Everyone...check out Christina's "Mausi" blog.


At 4:10 AM, Blogger Lisa said...

I'll make a deal with you. I'm coming to Spain in October. I'll bring you a grill (unassembled) and you get me a couple of cases of Kinder Bueno candybars. I fell in love with this chocolaty bar when I was in Barcelona 2 years ago and can't get it here in the states. Deal? lol

At 9:03 AM, Blogger Sal DeTraglia said...

Hi Lisa:

Thanks for the offer.

As much as I'd love to see you explain to security why you're carrying 47 lbs. of tubular-shaped sheet-metal through an airport, I can't let you do it. If all of my readers land in jail, then who would I write for?

But you're 100% correct about Kinder Buenos. I bought one on a whim a few years ago, and man!...what a shock. Those things are great!

For those of you who haven't had the pleasure, Kinder Bueno is a candy bar that's has a whispy, crispy wafer at the core and is covered with a very smoooth, creamy milk chocolate. It's tastes great, but is not dense or heavy. And best of all, the supermarket two blocks from my house sells them.

Much as I love Kinder Bueno, however, my favorite Spanish candy is Conguitos. They are chocolate-covered peanuts, and I can't go a week without at least one small bag. You'll never find Conguitos in the US, because the packaging might be construed as outright racist. It features a peanut-shaped cartoon Pygmy with dark-brown skin and huge red lips. I suspect that this image has been around for decades, and that Spaniards are loathe to discard it for reasons of nostalgia. Jesse Jackson would blow a gasket if he saw a Conguitos wrapper...but his attitude would change quickly after devouring his first handful Conguitos themselves.

Thanks for commenting, Lisa.

At 2:38 PM, Blogger ironporer said...

As a transplanted 'Yankee'(Indiana born) here in the heart of souther BBQ country, I can certainly feel your pain. Down here it's pork butts, slow smoked for hours, then chopped, but that Texas brisket remains a fond memory of my days in the Texas Hill Country.

Might I suggest you visit your local welding shop- every small village has one I am sure...doing mainly agricultural eqpt. repair and such. One would think that a right smart smoker with seperate firebox and associated dampers and such would not be out of any good welder/fabricators fact I imagine that most Spanish men would really get into a project like that- most remember 'la parilla' from their grandparents village. Hell, an old fuel drum some hinges and angle iron legs.... and you'll be the envy of the town.

At 3:25 PM, Blogger christina said...

Sal - I'm truly honoured to have you link me and have returned the favour.

Also, check this out: you can get these smoker thingies in Germany for a mere €359 Euros AND they say they'll ship them internationally if you contact them. No excuse now!
Here's the link:

At 3:35 PM, Blogger Lisa said...

haha, I guess I couldn't pack it into my carry-on after all. I'll be sure and try Conguitos when I'm in Barcelona. (I'll be sure and bring a bag home to shock some of my politiclly correct family members)

At 5:17 PM, Blogger Sal DeTraglia said...

Iron Man:

You and I understand each other perfectly. And you're right about the joys of smoke pork butt. If I were forced at gunpoint to choose between that and brisket, I'm not sure I could do it. As for your suggestion to have a local metal shop fabricate a smoker for me, let me be the first to say that you are a genius. If my final efforts to score a SMC fall through, then I will absolutely follow your advice. Ha! I can see it now. After my neighbors get their first whiff of hickory smoke pouring from my backyard patio, that little metal shop will be flooded with orders for barrel-smokers. Thanks again for supplying the common sense that I obviously lack.

Christina: I should have known to turn to the Germans when life presents a seemingly unsolveable problem. Thank you muchisimo for supplying that link. I'm going straight there as soon as I close-out this message. And thanks from linking me from Mausi-land. Till soon!

Lisa: All I can say is...take a good look at the agent who will be checking your bags before proceding through Customs upon your return to Milwaukee airport. Know what I mean, jellybean?

Thanks everyone. Yawl's the greatest.



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