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Does this apply to food in general or just proteins or a few items? Also, does the taste vary depending on the type of wood you use i.e. using bamboo as firewood?

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    I would edit this to ask if cooking with wood makes food taste different than other methods, since we don't allow opinion-based answers or questions. Like personally, I wouldn't try cook, say pudding over a campfire compared to a sausage, but that's entirely an opinion; maybe some people like smokey pudding. – Jorgomli Mar 7 at 21:35
  • Sure. A second look and i can see why the word "better" would be a problem so I'll be editing it out. Thanks. – Hamid Sabir Mar 7 at 22:12
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    @Jorgomli Funny you should mention pudding. I like smoked food, a lot. But a restaurant opened with a fancy smokehouse in town. Went in and order their special. It included smoked corn which was little heavy but I still liked it. The dinner rolls was a little much, and then they served cobbler that was smoked. They were putting warm salt & pepper on the tables because they had that in the smoker too, and the menu included a smoked bread pudding. They did not stay in business long. Matter of taste, but it was too much for most people. – dlb Mar 7 at 22:26
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"Taste better" is entirely opinion based and unanswerable with anything but opinion.

As to does it taste different, absolute. How different depends on application and technique. Different woods taste and cook differently. Some have high resin, some a harsh smoke, some a more gentle smoke. They burn at different temperatures and different moisture. Some may have toxins in there smoke. One would not use a green oily wood and expect something palatable. Smoking food is its own artform and people spend a lot of time trying to match correct woods to specific applications and even that is largely opinion.

Left out non-proteins: Certainly the same rules apply and it remains a matter of taste. Some foods grab more of the potential flavors, some less. One is not even limited to solids as soups could be done too. As bob1 points out, there are ways to reduce the differences in taste, like making sure the wood is burned down to coals with no visible smoke. I would also say you would want heat to be indirect and you may still have issues with differences in humidity, but you can certainly get at least close to oven flavors or the flavor of a gas grill if that is your goal.

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    I would add that this also depends on how long you burn the wood for before cooking - it is entirely possible to cook over hot wood coals/embers that don't have burnt off the volatile smoke components, and come out with food that would be almost the same as cooking over gas or electric hobs. Indeed most of the "slow smoke" you get in Southern USA "BBQ" competitions is actually the application of controlled heat, the smoking component is usually only for an hour or so near the start of this process. – bob1 Mar 7 at 21:45
  • Regarding the BBQ competitions, do all competitors use the same kind of wood as per a rule or is it all personal preference? – Hamid Sabir Mar 7 at 22:05
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    Personal preference. Hickory, oak and mesquite are common, as are fruit trees such as cherry, peach, apple, etc. Combinations of woods are common too. The source of the charcoal also adds to the flavor. Gas is not allowed for the competitions. – bob1 Mar 7 at 22:55
  • Wow. (Fruit trees, combination of wood). Interesting. This is like a completely different topic/science on it's own that is all new to me. I though Wood is Wood when it comes to cooking but obviously not anymore. Im inclined to learn more about this. Thanks for the info. – Hamid Sabir Mar 7 at 23:27
  • @HamidSabir Fruit and Nut trees tend to be the most popular, and almost always hardwood. Softwood tends to much higher resin and sap levels which results in "Not Good Eats." It is a whole area that goes into ranges from milder/sweeter for fish like alder and apple, to stronger stuff for beef that can hold up to it like Oak or even grape vines soaked in bourbon. Hickory is the long time classic for hams for instance, and in part it depends on how much you want to actually flavor the food. – dlb Mar 8 at 19:08

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