Why is it that the kitchen is often seen a more womanly sphere of influence but as soon as a barbecue grill gets involved in the process, cooking automatically becomes manly again? I don’t say that to be sexist; personally, I like to cook no matter what heat source is used. Still, many men who would not be caught dead in the kitchen baking brownies or lasagna would be aghast at the idea of their wives manning the grill.
Perhaps it’s the lure of an open flame or the fact that barbecuing is done outside; it’s more primal, and maybe it appeals to men because of it. Maybe its the fact that barbecuing usually involves meat, meat and more meat; it speaks to our carnivorous side. Whatever the reasons may be, the grill is the man’s domain in many households.
There must still be some demand for charcoal grills, even though many men can’t remember the last time they used one. You can still buy them, and stores still carry charcoal and lighter fluid. Someone is still using them; they must be the purists who say that charcoal gives better BBQ flavor. Sometimes, this can actually be true to some extent, but other times the only ‘flavor’ that’s added is the taste of lighter fluid. No one wants that. A conventional grill is such a hassle that many grillers go gas and never look back.
Lets take a look at the initial setup. It’s not that hard to light charcoal properly if you have all the right tools ready. Simply put the charcoal in that handy cylinder, soak it in lighter fluid, wait a few minutes, light the paper under it, and wait some more for it to start burning nicely. Then you can put it in the pit and start heating it. Of course, you might not have any starter fluid. And what’s that? The charcoal you thought you had got a little damp somehow, or you just don’t have enough? It’s off to the store to get some more. By the time the grill’s ready to cook, your guests have already grown restless and filled up on chips and dip.
Compare that to the gas lighting process, a simple matter of opening the tank, turning the knob, and pressing a button. At worst, you might have to light it manually with a match or lighter if the starter’s on the fritz. That’s usually the first thing to break on a gas grill. Let it burn on high for a few minutes to preheat, and you’re ready to go.
Plus, one tank of propane will easily last for a half dozen barbecues or more. And if you have a huge amount of food to cook, charcoal just can’t compare. Let’s say you have such a large feast planned that it’s going to take three or four shifts just to fit it all on the grill. If that’s the case, you’ll be lucky if the coals last past the first one. Who wants to prep new coals in the middle of the job? Gas, however, can keep the grill hot for hours on end.
Then you have the control issue. This is one of the main attractions of a gas grill – the cook can control the heat with ease. Unlike charcoal, a gas barbecue heats evenly and won’t have hot spots unless something is broken. You can put it on full blast for some quick searing, you can easily make one side hotter than the other, or you can turn them both to low for slow cooking.