A BBQ Story


A BBQ StoryBarbecued food is a favorite choice for many occasions, whether it’s a family dinner, a wedding, or a holiday party. While a staple in modern American cuisine, the story of barbecue food, and how it came to our dinner plates, is an international tale.

 The word barbecue appears in the culinary language of many different countries, including Mongolia, Brazil, Argentina, Japan, Korea, and Greece. Each country has a slightly different way of preparing and serving barbecued food. For the story of American barbecue – in particular Southern and Texan barbecue – we actually have to go off the coast of America and into the islands of the Atlantic.

 The classic tale of where American barbecue started actually takes place in the Caribbean. The natives of those islands had a tradition of slow cooking their meat over small, smoky fires.  The smoke from the fire had a two-fold purpose: it helped preserve the meat so that it wouldn’t spoil and it would help ward off the insects.  When the Spanish arrived in the Caribbean, they were intrigued by this process, which the natives called barbacoa. Whether or not the word barbecue is a derivative of that native name is a topic under constant debate.  But, nevertheless, the colonizers took note of this cooking method.

 As the Spanish, and other European countries, began to settle in the new world, they also began to transport pigs and cattle. Without refrigeration, pits and smokehouses were often used in order to preserve the meat. As the colonies evolved, the slow cooking process the Spanish had seen in the Caribbean was used mostly for the inexpensive cuts of meat that were eaten by low-income people and slaves. In the South, pigs were the most common choice of meat, which lead to pork (especially pulled pork) being the most commonly barbecued food.

 Over time, the different regions of the South started to develop their own barbecue styles. The four main types in include Memphis barbecue, North Carolina barbecue, Kansas City barbecue, and Texas barbecue. Each region prepares the meat with different ingredients, leading to widely different flavors. Over the next few articles, as we continue our barbecue story, we’ll take a look at what defines each of these different styles of barbecue. You may just need to go out and sample each type in order to determine your personal favorite.

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