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Dining Barbecues for Buffs by Susan Campbell There’s something inherently primal and undeniably appetizing about the aroma of food sizzling over an open flame. And though cooking over an open fire is as primitive as it gets, today’s skilled grill buffs are turning flame-fueled food into a true culinary art. Barbecue beginnings The word barbecue originated on Hispaniola (the island shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti), where the ancient Arawak civilization of Taino Indians, who inhabited the island, con- structed wooden racks high over blazing fires to slowly cook meat and fish. This method ensured the food wouldn’t scorch and that the insects couldn’t get at it. They called these racks barbacoa. Spanish explor ers noted this practice and first recorded the name for it in 1526. Eventually the word barbacao became anglicized as barbecue. Grill vs. barbecue Barbecue, bar-b-que, barbie, and BBQ... there are as many variations and abbreviations on the spelling as there are on what is actually involved. Folks from the southern United States will say that you do not barbecue burgers and steaks – you grill them. They will argue that grilling is all about hot and fast cooking. And some will say that barbecued always means the addition of a sweet, spicy, tomato-based sauce. But even if purists disagree, “Let’s have a grilling!” doesn’t quite conjure up images of a fun, out- door feast the way “Let’s have a BBQ!” 62 Nights does. Then there’s the cooking apparatus. Whether fueled by gas, charcoal, or wood, these grills have all commonly become known as “barbecues.” But semantics aside, ever since mankind first introduced food to fire, we’ve had a hot and smoky love affair with this culinary technique that shows no signs of burning out. Grilling around the globe Different countries and cultures have their own names for the social aspect of the fired-up feast as well as the cooking technique and the equipment, and some- times they are one and the same like America’s “barbecue.” But what really sets them all apart is the choice of mari- nades, oils, rubs, sauces, and spice blends added; even the type of wood used to fuel a fire can create a distinctive flavor. Favorite meats all depend on what’s economical, easily obtainable, and pop- ular in each individual region. Coastal communities also look to the sea for grillable foods like the grilled fresh fish and sardines that are legendary in Por- tugal. And native North American Indi- ans of the Pacific Northwest have been grilling fresh salmon on cedar planks for centuries.