By Noura Al Joaib
Though taking out the grill and getting those steaks ready is usually a summertime activity, in this side of the world, where summer days are too hot and summer nights too humid, it has become a favorite pastime as soon as the weather beckons those cardigans and hoodies out of our closets.
Ladies and gents, BBQ season is upon us. Whether you’re the type that likes to go to the beach and fire up that grill or prefer doing it in the comfort of your backyard, there is no denying the joy it brings.
According to the dictionary, Bar•be•cue, noun and verb, is defined as such:
Pieces of meat, poultry, or fish roasted over an open hearth, esp. when basted with a barbecue sauce.
A grill, spit, or fireplace for cooking food over an open fire.
A meal, usually outdoors, at which foods are so cooked.
But where did the word come from? The word barbecue comes from the Taino people of the Caribbean. Their word barbacoa translates roughly to “sacred fire pit”; clearly showing us how seriously the Taino’s took their barbecue. But what is the difference between Barbecuing and Grilling? Often used interchangeably, there is a distinct difference between the two techniques.
To barbecue is to slow cook the meat (poultry, fish, etc.) over coals with indirect heat. Grilling, on the other hand, is fast cooking over coals with direct heat. Although originating in the Caribbean, every culture throughout the centuries has added its unique flavors. While some like lathering the meat with a type of BBQ sauce variation (usually tomato-based with molasses, vinegar, brown sugar and seasoned with paprika), others prefer simply rubbing salt/pepper/spices and letting the juices of the meat do the trick. And as we all agree on the absolute joy of grilling, it’s important to follow some safety tips to avoid any accidents.
First, if you’re barbecuing at home, always make sure the grill is placed well away from overhanging tree branches and anything hazardous. Secondly, and more importantly, keep children and pets away from the grill area. Also, make sure you keep your grill clean by removing grease from the grills and the trays below the grill. And last but not least, never, ever, leave your grill unattended. Regardless of your preference in techniques and styles—whether you’re the dripping-in-sauce kind or the kind that likes to keep things simple—the best barbecue in the world is the one cooked around family and friends. Happy grilling!