Striplv Magazine - The Sexiest Magazine on the Planet, Issue 0717

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Evolution BBQ Barbecues and Grills: What's Cookin' in Your Backyard? By Howard T. Brody Next to baseball, hot dogs, apple pies and automobiles, nothing quite says “America” like a good, old-fashioned cookout. And unless you live in a climate where cookouts occur year-round, this is the time of year when you fire up the grill and invite all your family and friends over for a backyard BBQ. Now, before we get into a technical debate, there are some things we should keep in mind and put on the picnic table to avoid any confusion. First, despite the variations of how the word is spelled, barbecue (or is it Bar-B-Que?) is both a cooking method and a device. So, for this discussion, we are going to concentrate on the apparatus as opposed to the cuisine. To further confuse things, most people grill, they don’t barbecue. Barbecuing is done slowly over low, indirect heat where the food is flavored by a smoking process, while grilling, which is what most Americans do – and often refer to their grills as barbecues, or barbies— as in “put another shrimp on the barbie!” – is generally done quickly over moderate-to-high direct heat that hardly produces smoke at all (unless you’re burning something). However, the two terminologies have been so interwoven over the years that when you are either hosting or going to a cookout, your food is most likely being grilled as opposed to being barbecued. Grilling has existed in the Americas since even before the first settlers on the Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock. The Arawaks (a group of indigenous people from South America and historically from the Caribbean) roasted meat on a wooden structure that the Spanish called a barbacoa. For centuries, the term referred to the wooden structure and not the act of grilling, but through the course of time the word morphed into “barbecue.” The term was also used to describe pit-style cooking techniques. While barbecues were originally used to slow-cook hogs, different ways of preparing food developed and led to the regional variations we see today across the U.S. such as Carolina, Texas, Tennessee and St. Louis-style BBQ, among others. Over time, other foods were cooked similarly, with hamburgers and hot dogs being fairly recent additions, and primarily cooked on a grill. Now it’s hard to believe, but before 1952, if you were to have a cookout, your food was not prepared on the type of grill that has been woven into the American fabric. After World War II, the “chicken in every pot and a car in every garage” America that Herbert Hoover once promised during the ‘20s seemed to be coming to fruition as people migrated from the cities to the suburbs and outdoor entertaining became a part of life. Free-standing metal braziers (containers for hot coals) started replacing traditional barbecue pits as the focus shifted from slow-cooked techniques to grilling. On the weekends it was not unusual to see smoke climbing over your neighbor’s fence. In 1952, George Stephen Sr. was working in a metal fabrication shop for Weber Brothers Metal Works in Chicago, welding steel spheres together to make marine buoys, when he came up with an idea for a better grill: a dome-shaped design. Stephen was tired of the wind blowing ash onto his food when he grilled, so he took the lower half of a buoy, welded three steel legs onto it, and fabricated a shallower hemisphere to use as a lid. He took his creation home and following some initial success, started the Weber-Stephen Products company, which to this day makes outdoor grills and related accessories. His invention, the “kettle barbecue,” intended to protect food from the elements, ignited a backyard revolution. Right around the same time, Don McGlaughlin, owner of the Chicago Combustion Corporation, (the company who manufactured the successful gas fired Broilburger) was inventing the outdoor gas grill, better known today as the LazyMan. Up to that point, gas grills were only found in commercial cooking. Not long after the LazyMan was introduced, two other companies – Charmglo and Falcon – released competing portable grills. These portable gas fired grills featured state-of-the-art burners. The burners were built off the burner technology that had already been established by the Chicago Combustion Corporation. Other early gas grill designs included electric rotisseries, porcelain on steel fire boxes, and lava rocks to emulate the flavor of charcoal. For the LazyMan, McGlaughlin’s grandson needed a fuel source for the new portable grill and the iconic propane tank that is now associated with today’s grilling industry was sourced from 20-pound propane cylinders that were used exclusively by the plumbing industry. In 1959 you could purchase the portable LazyMan (Model AP) for $131.25 ($1,178 in today’s money).

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