The heart of all hot dog carts! Gas BBQ grills have been the staple cooking method for hot dog carts since their invention. The reason is that gas grills are easy to light, operating temperature is achieved quickly and the heat is easy to control , so the outcome is very predictable. Gas grills give very consistent results, although some charcoal and wood purists argue that it lacks the flavors available only from cooking with charcoal. Advocates of gas grills claim that gas cooking lets you "taste the meat, not the heat" because it is claimed that charcoal grills may deposit traces of coal tar on the food.
For those who distinguish between the terms, grilling is almost always a fast process over high heat, actually similar to frying for the most part, while barbecuing is almost always a slow process using indirect heat and/or hot smoke. For example, in a typical home grill, grilled foods are cooked on a grate directly over hot charcoal; while in barbecuing, the coals are dispersed to the sides or at significant distance from the grate.
Ok, enough with the semantics. We generally refer to anything cooked on a BBQ grill and "Barbequed".
Gas grills are somewhat more expensive due to their added complexity, and higher heat. They are also considered much cleaner, which is a nice feature for a hot dog cart application as they do not result in ashes (which must be disposed of) and also in terms of air pollution. Proper maintenance may further help reduce pollution. The useful life of a gas grill may be extended by obtaining replacement gas grill parts when the original parts wear out.
The origins of both barbecue cooking activity and the word itself are somewhat obscure. Most etymologists believe that barbecue derives ulimately from the word barabicu found in the language of the Taíno people of the Caribbean. The word translates as sacred fire pit and is also spelled barbicoa or barabicoa. The word describes a grill for cooking meat consisting of a wooden platform or mesh of sticks.
Traditional barbicoa involves digging a hole in the ground and placing some meat, usually a whole goat, with a pot underneath it, so that the juices can make a hearty broth. It is then covered with maguey leaves and coal and set alight. The cooking process takes a few hours. Cute idea, but I'll bet you're glad that we have adapted the process somewhat for use on a hot dog cart, aren't you?
There is also ample evidence that the both the word and cooking technique migrated out of the Caribbean and into other cultures and languages, with the word moving from Caribbean dialects into Spanish, then French and English in the Americas. The word evolved into its modern English spelling of barbecue and may also be found spelled as bar-b-que, bar-b-q or bbq. In the south eastern United States, the word barbecue is used predominantly as a noun referring to roast pork, while in the southwestern states cuts of beef are often cooked.
The word barbecue has attracted two inaccurate origins from folk etymology. A popular claim is that the word is derived from the French barbe à queue, meaning from beard to tail, implying that a pig is cooked whole. Again, not a great idea for a hot dog style cart, if for no other reason than it's hard to find a bun big enough to cover a whole pig!
Another claim states that the word BBQ came from the time when roadhouses and beer joints with pool tables advertised Bar, Beer and Cues. According to this tale, the phrase was shortened over time to BBCue, then BBQ.
Regardless of how it got to us, we are certainly glad that we have the light, long lasting BBQ units that are an absolute necessity on most hot dog cart applications.
Our BBQ units are designed to be a perfect compliment to the design of all WillyDog hot dog carts, and with proper maintenance and cleaning methods, will last you many years of active service.