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Barbecue or barbeque (informally BBQ in the UK, US, and Canada; barbie or barby in Australia; and braai in South Africa) is a term used with significant regional and national variations to describe various cooking methods that employ live fire and smoke to cook the food. The term is also generally applied to the devices associated with those methods, the broader cuisines that these methods produce, and the meals or gatherings at which this style of food is cooked and served. The cooking methods associated with barbecuing vary significantly but most involve outdoor cooking.
The various regional variations of barbecue can be broadly categorized into those methods which use direct and those which use indirect heating. Indirect barbecues are associated with North American cuisine, in which meat is heated by roasting or smoking over wood or charcoal. These methods of barbecue involve cooking using smoke at low temperatures and long cooking times, for several hours. Elsewhere, barbecuing more commonly refers to the more direct application of heat, grilling of food over hot coals or a gas fire. This technique is usually done over direct, dry heat or a hot fire for a few minutes. Within these broader categorizations are further national and regional differences.
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