Clash of the Titans L: Gas v. Charcoal

September 18, 2007, 12:00 pm; posted by
Filed under David, Debate, Josh J  | 5 Comments

In this corner, on the side of gas, is David!

And in this corner, backing charcoal, is Josh!

Meet the Gutierrez family. After suffering catastrophic health issues in Mexico, they left their native land to emigrate to the United States. Settling (illegally) in an affluent Hispanic community in the lush suburbs of Macon, GA, they received free health care, food stamps and supplemental income from various welfare agencies, allowing them to heal from their several maladies and settle into an ideal American existence.

They moved to the suburb, initially, because of the many jobs open to undocumented aliens at area chicken processing plants. But they stayed because they became hooked on fresh chicken and the outdoor BBQ experience — and they don’t use charcoal. See, back in Mexico they suffered a series of disturbing ailments thought to be byproducts of American manufacturing practices, but in reality were caused by the manufacture of charcoal.

As with most countries in South and Central America, there is a burgeoning illegal charcoal industry in Mexico, destroying the environment ways impossible to calculate. I know, because I tried with my calculator and I could not find a way to input words like “greenhouse gases” and “smog.” Charcoal is made by cutting down trees and burning the wood in a furnace (without oxygen), creating coals for consumption by fat, lazy, rich Americans. The immediate effect of the process is the release of carbon monoxide, a major contributor to both global warming and the long, drawn-out twilight of William Shatner’s acting career (speaking of rich, fat Americans). In addition, removing the trees strips hillsides of vegetation, leaving the land prone to erosion, which kills by starvation, and flooding, which kills — well… pretty much by flooding. Oh, and also mudslides.

I stand with the Gutierrez family in my resolve to use only gas when I grill my loco pollo from nearby chicken plants. If it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for me. Besides, I like to make my own sauce from mustard, soy sauce and Italian dressing, and soy sauce tastes funky when it’s grilled over charcoal.

Not that I have ever personally used charcoal.

There are few things finer in all the world than a cookout on a warm summer day — the smell, the camaraderie around the grill, the way everything just tastes better when you eat outside. You feel alive. The only way to put a damper on such a tasty scene would be to cheat.

I’m talking to you, gas grill guy.

First off, it’s undeniable that food cooked over a real, charcoal fire tastes better. Since quality of taste is the most important factor when discussing food preparation — particularly if you’re going to go to all the trouble of a cookout to begin with — the debate really begins and ends there. But I will continue, because there’s more to love about charcoal.

For one thing, the grills are less expensive. This leaves more money available for quality cuts of meat. Also, studies have shown that when it comes to expensive cooking gadgets, there is an inverse correlation between how much money people spend and how much they actually cook for themselves. In other words, gas is for posers.

Throw in the fact that charcoal offers an infinitely lower chance of an explosion, and much greater ease and safety of storage and purchase. When I go to Lowe’s (let’s build something — together), I don’t need someone to unlock an outdoor cage to get me a bag of charcoal.

Proponents of gas will say that charcoal takes too long to heat up, and that gas offers more even control of heat. Well, you know what? My microwave heats up quickly and provides even heat. Maybe I’ll just go nuke some hot dogs and call it a day. Give me a break!

The whole point of cooking out is to master that open flame, to connect with nature. For a genuine cookout experience, charcoal just can’t be beat.



5 Comments to “Clash of the Titans L: Gas v. Charcoal”

  1. Phil on September 18th, 2007 5:21 pm

    Well, Dad, that was great. There were moments when you reminded me of the late Dave Barry. (Wait, he’s not dead,he just on ‘hiatus’.) Any way, I voted with you on the sheer fact that I got such great enjoyment out of reading your argument. That and the fact that the mixture of fat and charcoal is, as I understand, a carcinogen.

  2. David on September 18th, 2007 7:48 pm

    Hey bud! I forgot the carcinogenic factor. I do remember reading about that before somewhere.

  3. Phil on September 20th, 2007 12:25 pm

    It’s funny, the day after I posted this I was listening to NPR and they interviewing this rather humorous fellow, who was on his book tour. After listening to it for a moment I concluded it must have been some new young writer promoting his first book. No. It was Dave Berry, of all things. And on NPR no less. Strange

  4. David on September 20th, 2007 5:05 pm

    Strange. Dave Berry needs to get back in the Newspapers where the common man can gladly hear him.

  5. David on September 20th, 2007 5:07 pm

    Isn’t it Dave Barry? We have even forgotten how to spell his name.

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