The Art of Living: Manning the Grill

We all know that summer is the season for getting the grill all fired up and ready to shine-and if you're a manly man (and we all know you are, right?), this is also the season to show your mad skills at the grill. Every steak, burger, and dog you cook to juicy perfection is a veritable jewel in your crown, each beautiful char-mark proof that you-yes, you-are the tamer of the open flame. Your skills are matchless, and now is the time to sit high on your thrown and let the crowds be wowed, stunned into silence as they bite into your masterpieces of meat...

Well, whether or not that was a glimpse into reality or just how you imagine yourself, summer is undeniably grilling season. And even if your time manning the grill doesn't always turn out quite as boast-worthy as you'd hoped, you can still have fun breaking out the briquettes...or doing whatever it is you do to get your grill going.

Which brings to mind the question: Is there a top dog when it comes to grills? Both charcoal and gas have their pros and cons, and so we shall take a closer look at what sets them apart.

While gas grills might be easily ignited and maintain an even temperature, they're by far the more expensive option (though who among us isn't tempted to sink a tidy sum into one of those shiny beasts with all the knobs and gadgetry that make the pricey gas grills so...pretty? Two words, people: Stainless. Steel. Just sayin'.). To delve below the superficial (and did we mention shiny?) allure of gas grills, the gas flame doesn't quite impart the smoky flavor inherent to grilling over charcoals or woodchips, so if you're in love with the distinctive flavor and aroma that readily springs to mind when you think of summertime grillin', you might want to scale back a bit and cast your eyes on traditional charcoal grills. But do remember: The charcoal method is neither for the impatient nor the overly tidy, as coal is generally messy and sometimes on the tricky side to ignite. Another downside? It can take a little while to reach the desired temperature.

Once you've got your grill, the options of what you can cook on that grated-glory are endless, from the more expected array of meats to things that make you go pizza...and dare we say desserts? Tap into your imagination and let it run wild. This is your domain, so keep it conquered!