Best for barbeque: Charcoal or gas?

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 12, 2000

LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / August 12, 2000

HAHNVILLE – It could be considered the most burning question of the summer. Some people get hot under the collar and others get steamed. Buttry to grill someone over this, and sparks could fly. It could get explosive.Which is better for outdoor cooking, butane gas or charcoal? Just as the definition of barbecue differs in various parts of the country (as does the spelling), and opinions are sharply divided over the benefits and drawbacks of using gas or charcoal grills.

A perfect opportunity presented itself during Tuesday’s “Night Out Against Crime” observance in St. Charles Parish. An impartial, unscientific andirregular survey of grillmasters and BBQ kings produced the following results: Sianee Douglas, serving up chicken and hamburgers in Norco’s Bethune Park from over a charcoal grill, said, “It doesn’t matter.” Apparently, it did tomost of the partiers, who lined up again and again to stuff themselves silly.

(“Ahem!”) Joe Dufour in Montz, who racked up with chicken, sausage and burgers, came out strongly in favor of gas grills. “You don’t have to light and wait, and witha little liquid smoke in your sauce, you’ve got the flavor.”Joe’s neighbor, Matthew Morgan, likewise supported gas grills. “Charcoal istoo much hassle,” he said.

Kenny Robicheaux of Destrehan straddled the fence, and said, “I prefer gas because of the convenience, but I like charcoal for the flavor, without a doubt.”Hahnville Volunteer Fire Department Chief Reggie Gaubert, on the other hand, cautioned against gas grills. “I prefer charcoal,” he said. “I find it cooksbetter. You light it about an hour to an hour and a half ahead of time, letthem turn a nice, pretty white, then throw on your meat.”He also cautioned against the possibility of explosion from leaking gas bottles and urged people to check all seals and valves before firing the gas up.

There are advantages and disadvantages in either direction. Gas grills areready to use almost immediately, but one is never quite sure if there’s enough gas in the bottle. Charcoal imparts an unmistakable, hearty flavorunattainable any other way, but if the coals aren’t ready and one cooks on them too soon, the equally-unmistakable flavor of starter fluid fills the food.

Doubtless, this hot issue will continue unresolved.

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