Let me clear one thing up right now. If you are in your backyard and the activity you are engaged in includes cooking some type of beef, hot dogs, or sausage on a grill, be it charcoal (or God forbid gas, imho, real men don't cook on gas grills, but I digress) you are "Cooking Out" not "Barbecuing". To Barbecue you need some form of pork, some type of wood that will provide good smoke flavor, a secret rub, sauce (or both), and a lot of time to make it right. Bottom line, if you have ever had honest to God good southern Barbecue, you know the difference, you'll never forget it, and you'll be trying to figure out how to come back for more.
Up north, they call any cooking out of doors "Barbecuing". Like with a lot of things, as my Aunt Kat would say, "They can't help it, they just don't know any better". We try to explain this to our friends who are not from 'round here. Being a self proclaimed grill-miester is thing of pride with southern men (and women). This is something we take damn seriously. When one says, "Why don't you guys come over tonight? We're going to Barbecue steaks." Any southern cook within ear shot will reply something like this: "You don't Barbecue steaks! You grille steaks. And, for the hundredth time, you are not Barbecuing - you are Cooking Out."
Don't get me wrong, we love our hot dogs, hamburgers, grilled chicken and thick steaks down here. Cooking out is a favorite past time of ours. Southern men collect grilles like notches on their belts. I grew up grilling steaks every Friday night. I'm not sure where (or when) that tradition started. Cooking outside is an ingrained part of our lifestyle.
Now maybe to someone not from here this is a trivial argument over semantics. But in the South it is gospel, because Barbecue is a religion. Preparing and eating it is a religious experience. And among the faithful, there are the different denominations. You can worship in the houses of mustard based, ketchup based, or vinegar based. Then there are the hard core "evangelicals" who always want ribs. What ever your belief, in the south, we go hog wild. We rub it, baste it, smoke it, cook it real slow over hickory, then we pull it and, ever so lightly, put sauce on it. Does that sound like throwing steaks on a grille in the backyard to you?