Barbequing: an American tradition

by PETE KRUER
Rockford Ace Hardware

Americans love to cook and entertain outside. Some people think the reason is that we have so much outdoors to enjoy. Europeans are starting to cook outside more, but they just don’t get into it quite like Americans. Some of the best memories with family and friends are at barbeques!

We are going to explore the fun and flavor of barbecuing and grilling.

So is barbecuing and grilling the same? Well, not exactly; they both use fire, just in a different way. Barbecuing is cooking on indirect heat and with a cover over the food. Also, barbecuing is done at a lower temperature than grilling. Grilling, on the other hand, is over direct coals (heat) and at a much higher temperature.

Barbecuing is seldom impulsive, but is planned out and done at home. Whereas, with grilling, you can be camping and you can make a fire and cook relatively quickly.

Barbecuing and smoking are very similar.

Outdoor cooking was changed forever by a man named Stephens from Chicago in the 1950s. Stephens was an engineer for Weber Co., and they made buoys for use on the great lakes. That’s right: BUOYS! Suburbia was exploding and people had bigger yards to enjoy being outside. Stephens had his friends over and was cooking on an open grill. He thought there had to be better way to control the heat and get more flavor when cooking. So, the next day at the shop, he took a buoy—yes, a buoy—and cut off the top, put grates, vents, a handle and legs on, and you have the Weber kettle grill!

Mr. Weber saw no future in making grills, so he told Stephans that if he wants to make grills to buy him out. Stephans bought Weber Co., changed the name to Weber-Stephens, and began to make only grills. Wow! The Weber kettle grill started the American love affair with cooking outside and a whole new industry.

Even though barbecuing has been part of the American family experience for hundreds of years, it has gone to a whole new level in the last 20 years. The southern U.S. is really the home of American barbecuing. Barbecuing has become as American as apple pie. The ethnic group that really gave us this great tradition were Black Americans. The Germans in Texas, the French in Louisiana and the Spanish in the southwest have also contributed to the American barbecue.

So over the next few weeks, we will explore the different barbecuing techniques and recipes. We will see why American food is greatest!

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