A smoky sizzle 

Street Smarts

To many, nothing says summer like a gathering of friends, talk, laughter, music, and the to-die-for aroma of meat searing on the backyard barbecue grill.

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Randy Cable of Woodland Park works in information technology

What's behind America's fascination with barbecue? It's a throwback to the days before refrigeration, when they needed to preserve meats. And just because it tastes so good.

Is barbecuing more an art or a science? It's both: rubs, wet/dry cooking, using a smoker or a pit.

Rate your skills. I'm a very good cook — I cooked my way through college — but I'd rate myself as pretty average in The School of Barbecuing.

Gas, charcoal, wood — does it really matter which is used? You're not getting the full bouquet and aroma without charcoal or wood. You might as well cook indoors.

What's the most unusual thing you've seen barbecued? Rattlesnake.

Do you have a barbecuing tip? Use radiant heat, never direct.

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Ron Garcia of Monument works in marketing and is a high school lacrosse coach

What gives with our love of barbecue? It creates community. We work hard and need a reason to get together, relax and enjoy ourselves.

Is barbecuing more an art, a science, or just another way to cook? Part of my being a man is entertaining my guests and not burning the meat.

Is there a difference between gas, wood and charcoal to barbecue? That's a big debate. If you're Old School, you prefer briquettes. If you're new school, it's propane.

What's the most unusual thing you've barbecued? I just had a barbecue where I grilled green onions in olive oil and sea salt and pepper. Everyone loved it.

Who do you think does the best barbecue around here? Rudy's is pretty good. I also love Front Range.

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Alicia Harris of the west side is a retired social worker

What accounts for our huge fascination with barbecue? It reminds us of when things were simpler and barbecues were big family deals. My daddy barbecued, and it was always wonderful.

Is barbecuing an art, a science, or only another way to cook? For guys, it's an art. I barbecue a little, but nobody can kick the ass of a man in a barbecue pit. They'll tell you that, too.

What's the most unusual thing you've seen barbecued? Whole pigs in a pit.

Who does the best barbecue in these parts? He's retired now, but nobody — nobody — could touch Howard's Barbecue. Except maybe that old, old man back in San Francisco whose arms were black up to his elbows from sticking them into barbecue pits.

What's a barbecue tip you could share? I boil my pork and beef ribs first, and then marinate them overnight, and my ribs rock the earth.

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