Fact: Americans are in a fiery, long-term love affair with their backyard grills, and the CNN Library has the stats to prove it.
62 – Percent of Americans who own a grill.
79.1 million – Americans who have grilled out in the past 12 months, according to the U.S. Census from 2010.
I lived in a fifth-floor New York City walk-up apartment with no yard when I started getting the itch to put food to flame. I was drawn to it like a moth, for reasons I couldn’t quite grasp, and which now smolder at the core of my food-loving soul.
Whenever my friend Ali was out of town, I’d let myself onto her back deck to fire up her kettle grill after watering her plants. Since I took pains to replace the charcoal and scrub the grate as cleanly as I could manage, she was kind enough to issue me a key.
Some people maintain that Memorial Day weekend officially marks the start of grilling season and Labor Day, the end. Those people, for the most part, are wrong. Some folks maintain the flame in snowdrifts up to their thighs. Others won't haul out the hibachi until late September because it'll finally be cool enough to cook outside without wilting like a hothouse gardenia. July is National Grilling Month, but that's just kind of incidental.
What we're saying is, so long as our spatula isn't actively frozen or melted to our hands, and monsoon spray does not prevent us from lighting a charcoal chimney, we're going to be outdoors, putting flame to food and quaffing a cold beverage. Why don't you just come along and join us?
Catch up on the rest of our great cookout and picnic tips below, and if you run into a sticky grilling situation - we're here to help. Share your burning questions in the comments or Tweet us @eatocracy and we'll have your festivities back on track in no time.
Achieve Grilling Greatness
Editor's note: For more on Hannah Storm, don't miss "Sanjay Gupta, MD" on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. ET Saturday and 7:30 a.m. ET Sunday.
ESPN "SportsCenter" host Hannah Storm suffered severe burns as the result of a propane grill accident at her Connecticut home on December 11. CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta spoke with her recently. Here is an edited version of that interview.
CNN: Is it hard for you to just be by that grill where this all happened, psychologically?
Vegetarians are (mostly) not here just to ruin your good time. Really. I swear. I was one, myself for seven years and all I wanted at a cookout was to hang out with my friends, and not have to worry that the omnivores would gobble up all the meat-free sides before I got to the table.
Here are a few of my favorite ways to celebrate the bounty of the season and make sure all my guests leave full and satisfied - no matter how they choose to chow down.
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