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By Robert L.Wednesday, July 7, 2004;I have never written about politics in this column.But this is the election year. This is the Washington Post. I can't keep silent anymore.The most important issue facing our country is so critical, the two candidates are so opposed that I can't help but show my position on this issue, which is the most controversial issue of our time: which barbecue is good?Charcoal or gas?Here, I would like to express my heartfelt support for charcoal.Note: The views expressed in this column are inflammatory.Readers are advised to decide on their own.I have 11 BBQ recipes on my shelf, but they all subtly cover up two important points: barbecue and barbecue are not the same thing and all fuel is not equal.Recognizing that few people understand the difference between a barbecue and a barbecue, cooking books include two recipes to attract as many backyard cooking as possible.Because most of all the "grilled meat racks" in the United States (the name will only make the mess more complicated) are gas --After being fired, the authors killed their belief that charcoal was clearly superior to the gas used for grilling (which they only admitted after taking the oath ).An author can't lose most of his or her potential readers, many of whom have spent a lot of money on 18-In addition to cruise control and GPS, Wheeler gas grill is equipped with everything.In a real barbecue, the food is placed within a few inches of very hot (500 to 1,000 degrees), smoke-Free Fire, cooked quickly.Think about steak, ribs, burgers, kebabs, sausages, chicken and shrimp, the most common barbecue food.On the other hand, the barbecue consists of long (several hours), slow, relatively low partsThe temperature (300 to 350 degrees) is cooked and the food is limited to a pit or some sort of fence accompanied by a smoky fire.Think about beef or ribs, pig shoulders, or cow bris being painted on topSecret sauce for men wearing cowboy hats.The theme of this column is barbecue with three fuels: charcoal, coal balls and gas.If the wood is heated without oxygen (a process called destructive distillation), it will not burn.Instead, it breaks down.First, its water was driven away.Its carbohydrates (mainly cellulose and cellulose) then begin to break down into methanol (hence known as wood alcohol), acetic acid, acetone, formaldehyde, and many other smoke and gases.In the end, there is nothing but almost pure carbon.This is a piece of charcoal.For at least 4,000 years, people have been making charcoal from wood and using it as cooking fuel.Today's commercial block of charcoal still retains the shape of the block of wood it makes, burning hot and clean with little smoke.So it won my vote (and a secret vote from most barbecue experts) to be the best fuel for the barbecue.Coal ball-coal ball-I won't call them charcoal coal balls because they have a lot of other stuff besides charcoal-Invented and patented by Orin F.Stafford, a professor at the University of Oregon.Henry Ford then built a factory to produce them on a large scale, thus converting waste sawdust and wood chips from his T-factory into profitable products.Initially, the coal ball was made of powdered charcoal, compressed and bonded with starch.But things are not that simple today.According to 2000 publications from Kingsford ProductsThe charcoal company of Heir toFord, whose coal balls contain charcoal, mineral charcoal (a soft brown coal), mineral charcoal (graphite), limestone (beautiful coating for the production of white ash) starch (as adhesive), borax (which helps to release coal balls from the mold), Sawdust (for easy ignition) sodium nitrate, releases oxygen when heated and accelerates combustion.Personally, I 'd rather have no tarA lot of coal, starch, borax and sawdust are burning under the steak.The fuel used in modern gas grills is either methane (natural gas) or propane, and the molecules of these two hydrocarbons are composed of carbon atoms and hydrogen atoms.This is the difference between solid charcoal and gas fuel: hydrogen atom.When charcoal is completely burned, only carbon dioxide is produced, a smelly, tasteless gas that produces carbon dioxide and water vapor from methane and propane.(Hold a transparent glass plate briefly above the gas flame and you will see it fogged up by condensed water.Each burning propane molecule produces four minutes of water.In the typical 40,000-Btu-per-An hour-long gas grill emits 1/2 quarts of water per hour.The bottom surface of the meat is therefore steamed and its temperature cannot be as high as dryBurn charcoal.No wonder you can't fully reach the delicious, burnt brown crust produced by charcoal.Case closed.When the heat encounters a meat barbecue, the expert will distinguish between two techniques: direct barbecue, the meat is placed directly above the charcoal bed, indirect barbecue, charcoal piled on one side.In the direct method, heat reaches the meat through convection (rising hot air) and radiation (infrared.In the indirect method, since the meat is not directly above the heat source, the heat reaches the meat mainly through radiation.(The third heat transfer mechanism conduction does not play much role in barbecue or barbecue.) Therefore, the meat does not reach such a high temperature in the indirect method and is cooked more slowly.If the cooking equipment is covered, the rising hot air from the coal is captured and cycled throughout the housing, making it a convection oven.Put in a few wet pieces of hard wood and you can smoke at the same time.Whoops!In the last paragraph, we changed from barbecue to barbecue.This is easy to do as both can use the same device.I urge you to vote for charcoal instead of propane.No fuel like old fuel.Robert L.Wolke (www.Professor of Science.Com) is an honorary professor of chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh and recently published "Einstein told his chef: Explanation of kitchen science" (W.W.Norton, hardcover, $25.95).You can contact him at wolke @ pitt.edu.