Gas Stinks: Why you should Buy a Charcoal Barbecue
There’s nothing like a good barbecue. It’s hot and it’s fiery, and the resulting food is sizzling smoky heaven. When the spring turns into summer, and there isn’t a cloud to be seen in the sky, my favourite thing is to bring out the old barbecue. And when I say old - I mean old. I own a charcoal barbecue that is over 10 years old. Almost everyone else I know has a gas device. Many of my friends are really proud of their grills, and they show them off as if they were new cars. They wheel these big monsters out onto their patios and are quick to point out all the features:
“Look at this temperature gauge!”
“See, there’s five grill levels!”
“If you turn this knob, you can travel back in time!”
Yeah, whatever. I’ll take my old charcoal BBQ any day. In my opinion, it just isn’t a BBQ if you aren’t choking on the black smoke of a charcoal grill. It’s more fun, the food tastes better, and it’s the only way to barbecue.
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The problem with gas barbecues
Cooking with gas doesn’t seem as authentic because it’s simply too easy. You turn it on, wait for the thing to heat up, and then proceed to cook your food at a steady and controlled pace. It’s essentially like cooking in an outdoor kitchen. Sure all the food comes out evenly and there’s less chance of burning, but unpredictability is what makes charcoal grilling so fun. I’m also uncomfortable around propane tanks. I know it’s not the same thing, but ever since I saw Jaws where the guy blows up the shark by shooting the oxygen tank, I’ve been terrified of all types of gaseous containers. It’s weird that’s the phobia I came away with after the movie, and yet I’m fine with sharks, but I digress. I really don’t like the idea of cooking on something that could blow up at any moment. I never fully trust my friends to connect their propane tanks properly and I’m always imagining scenarios where everyone catches on fire. Of course I always come in and save everyone in my fantasies, but it’s still pretty inconvenient that I have to do it.
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Why charcoal rules
There’s something basic about a charcoal BBQ that seems more natural. It’s almost like cooking over a camp fire – and we all know how great that can be. The fun begins from the very beginning by lighting the coals. I remember when I was kid we used to use that hot metal prong that plugged into an electrical outlet. My parents always put me in charge of this. In retrospect, it’s probably not the best idea to let your twelve year old kid fool around with a hand-held fire stick that could burn off their face. Today I prefer to use good old fashioned lighting fluid. Sometimes I’ll go with the coals that come in lightable bags too. I still have the hot metal prong, but I only use it to curl my dog’s hair.
There’s nothing like seeing your coals light up for the first time. The flames shoot into the air and there’s always that mini-tornado of fire that swirls in the charcoal barbecue. Always remember to let the flames die down a bit until your coals are grey before you start cooking. I remember one time when I thought it would be a good idea to put my food on the grill right away. All my chicken wings came out burnt. Luckily I had a secret backup plan to cook more chicken wings called “ordering pizza”. Once you get all your food on the grill, it starts to crackle and sizzle. There’s nothing better. I’m pretty meticulous about making sure everything cooks well, and although I’m organized, I’m constantly flipping and rearranging all the food on my Weber charcoal BBQ. When the steak is seared I’ll adjust it once to get the grill marks going. When the chicken is done, I’ll put it off to the side. And if there’s a particular hot spot that seems to be singeing all my food, I’ll simply squelch it with my water bottle. I’m always on the move and it almost feels like I’m playing a video game with all the action that’s going on. I never see my friends work as hard on their grills. They usually pop the food down, close the lid, then sit down and have a beer. I wouldn’t mind having that level of convenience either, but the thing is – my charcoal BBQ always tastes better.
My Charcoal BBQ
Like I said, one of my Weber charcoal grills is over 10 years old. We’ve been through a lot of good times together. There was one time I even used it to burn up evidence for a case where I was being investigated for insurance fraud. Just kidding, it was just old speeding tickets. Sometimes my friends tease me about still using my old Weber charcoal BBQ. After all, the thing is rusted on the bottom and the grill doesn’t even sit evenly on the racks anymore. I say the same thing about their wives. If you are a fan of home BBQ, then consider going back to charcoal. Believe me, it tastes better. It might take a bit more work, and it may even make your food more carcinogenic, but it’ the only way to get the true BBQ experience.
This Hub was last updated on April 6, 2011
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