Barbecue or barbeque (common spelling variant) (with abbreviations BBQ, Bar-B-Q and Bar-B-Que; and diminutive form barbie, used chiefly in Australia and New Zealand; and called Braai in South Africa) is a method and apparatus for cooking meat and various other foods, with the heat and hot smoke of a fire, smoking wood, or hot coals of charcoal, cooking gas, or even electricity; and may include application of a marinade, spice rub, or basting sauce to the meat or vegetables. The term as a noun can refer to the meat, the cooking apparatus itself, or to a party that includes such food. The term as an adjective can refer to foods cooked by this method. The term is also used as a verb for the act of cooking food in this manner. Barbecue is usually cooked in an outdoor environment heated by the smoke of wood or charcoal. Restaurant barbecue may be cooked in large brick or metal ovens specially designed for that purpose.
Barbecue has numerous regional variations in many parts of the world. Notably, in the Southern United States, practitioners consider barbecue to include only indirect methods of cooking over hardwood smoke, with the more direct methods called grilling.
In British usage, barbecuing and grilling refer to a fast cooking process directly over high heat, while grilling also refers to cooking under a source of direct, high heat—known in the U.S. and Canada as broiling. In US English usage, however, grilling refers to a fast process over high heat, while barbecuing refers to a slow process using indirect heat and/or hot smoke (very similar to some forms of roasting). For example, in a typical U.S. home grill, food is cooked on a grate directly over hot charcoal, while in a U.S. barbecue, the coals are dispersed to the sides or at significant distance from the grate. Its South American versions are the southern Brazilian churrasco and the Argentine asado.
Alternatively, an apparatus called a smoker with a separate fire box may be used. Hot smoke is drawn past the meat by convection for very slow cooking. This is essentially how barbecue is cooked in most U.S. “barbecue” restaurants, but nevertheless, many consider this to be a distinct cooking process called hot smoking.
The slower methods of cooking break down the collagen in meat and tenderizes the tougher cuts for easier eating.