History of BBQ Part 2
If you ask ten Barbeque pit masters about the history of Barbeque, you will get eleven answers.
So, here is my answer.
The history of BBQ in America is as old as smoke, spice, and time. Every meat gets more tender and tastes better the more spice and smoke work their magic over long periods of time. Smoked and salted meats were the first techniques for preservation, so it makes sense that those techniques would evolve into the majestic meats we enjoy today.
Most people feel the term 'Barbeque' comes from the Spanish word 'Barbacoa.' history will show us that a barbacoa had nothing really to do with cooking. In the early 1500's, a barbacoa was a type of lattice made from various natural materials and put to a wide range of purposes, including killing your enemies. I don't see that much on the Food Network.
It wasn't until the 17th century that the term was used in a cooking context. Here, the word describes how natives would slice open and cook a pig they slaughtered. Now we are getting closer.
The term gets its American roots as a description of the cooking brought over from the slaves from the Caribbean. This technique involved digging a pit, filling it with hot rocks, and slow roasting meat that had been heavily salted. Eventually, this practice made its way to the settlers who made their way across the American West.
Despite its native origins and its status as a 'frontier' practice, eventually, the cooking style became claimed as a symbol of US exceptionalism and as a mark of American identity. The logic went that anyone who enjoyed barbecue meat must be a true American. Eventually, it was enthusiastically adopted by the urban middle classes, and it gradually acquired an association with homeownership. Barbecue had officially become an American pastime.
Now, one of the biggest debates among the purists of the meaning of Barbecue will occur if you bring together a Texan and a South Carolinian. In Texas, Barbecue means Beef, particularly brisket. In the Carolina's (the whole South for that matter), Barbecue means Pork (typically shoulder roasts and Boston butts).
Here in Gig Harbor, we have our own version strongly in the Texas Camp! We offer smokey, tender brisket, pulled pork, peppery homemade sausage, and the ever-present barbecued bird. So whether you choose to eat in or take home, you can rest assured the history of BBQ is strongly represented here in Gig Harbor at BBQ2U!
Love you guys!
Gary Parker, Your Pit Master