How Bad Is It?

Summertime grilling season is the time of year when relaxed vibes give way to relaxed habits and maybe even a few missteps. Don't worry, we're here to let you know just how bad some of your little foibles are. We're answering the question "How Bad Is It?" and putting your backyard fumbles into 1 of 3 categories, "Not So Bad," "Pretty Bad," and "Really Bad."


Geoffrey Zakarian explains that flare ups are bad for the flavor of your food on the grill, as seen on Food Network's The Kitchen.

Photo by: David Katz

David Katz

How bad is it…to let your grill flare up?
The fat content that makes your beautifully marbled steaks and burgers delicious can cause flare-ups on the grill. But don't let those fast-food commercials fool you: your burger should not be fire-blasted. As it turns out, allowing the grill to flare up around the meat is "Pretty Bad." Over-charring and burning meats and other foods on the grill can leave them with a sooty, bitter taste and can overcook the meat before the interior reaches the desired internal temperature.

A little flame kissing your meat is OK, but don't let those flare-ups get out of hand. The best way to avoid hockey puck burgers and steaks is to create a 2-zone setup on your grill. Zone 1 is direct heat for the quick searing of meat and for gorgeous grill marks. Keep a small squirt bottle of water near your grill to spray flames when they flare up. Squirt sparingly though, because you don't want to extinguish your fire. If Zone 1 flares up, you can move the meat onto the lower, indirect heat of Zone 2.

How bad is it…to fish a fly out of your wine glass and continue drinking?
The verdict here is that though it's a little gross, it's "Not So Bad!" While flies aren't the most hygienic species in the animal kingdom, wine's high alcohol content kills most of the bacteria they might be carrying. The solution to this one is easy…cover your drink, but if a pesky bug finds its way in, grab a fork, fish that fly out and keep on drinking!

Just how bad is it…to use ice from the cooler in your drink?
Now this one is "Really Bad!" While it can be enticing to use the ice from the beer cooler for your drink, it could make you sick. When you're having a great time outside, your guests dig their unwashed hands into the cooler to grab their favorite soda or beer. Those grubby little hands are likely covered in bacteria. Many coolers share space with uncooked meat or other foods that could cross-contaminate your drink. Beer bottles and soda cans are also dirty from warehouses and handling during delivery.

The best solution is to stay stocked with ice and stick to the ice bucket that is specifically for drinks. Keep it clean!

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