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A Brief History of Barbecue
Memorial Day is upon us and soon the sweet smell of smoking meat will be wafting in the air…. You have patiently waited through the chilly months of winter. Today is the day; you are having a barbecue! Wait, or is it BBQ or barbecue? May is National Barbecue Month, let’s take a moment to see how this all began…
No matter how you spell it, BBQ, B-B-Q, Bar-B-Que, ‘Que, Barbique, Barbacue, BB-Que, or Barbecue the origin of the word will probably never be totally clear. One popular theory stems from Spanish explorers, upon landing in the Caribbean. The theory is that they were exposed to a method of slow cooking meats over a wooden platform. The Spanish called this method of cooking barbacoa. As Spanish explorers turned their expeditions northward, they brought barbacoa or barbecue with them. By the 19th Century the barbecue technique was well established in the South and eventually made it to the colonies as far north as Virginia.
In the American South, pork was the primary meat used for barbecue due to pigs being prevalent in the region. The slaughtering of the pig became a celebration and the neighborhood would be invited to share in the bounty. Traditional side dishes such as corn bread, hush puppies, fried okra, coleslaw, sweet potatoes and a variety of beans accompanied these barbecue dishes. This explains how barbecue became the go-to menu for large gatherings such as neighborhood parties, political rallies and church festivals.
Over the years, certain regions developed a barbecue identity based on the flavor choice and food preferences of the territory. By the 1950’s barbecue restaurants were opened in just about every city in America. The four major regions known for BBQ are the ones we still recognize today, including the Carolinas, Kansas City, Memphis and Texas.
Most of the history of barbecue and its progression in America is credited to the South, and correctly so. However, barbecue continues to evolve today with the arrival of new equipment, contemporary techniques, new products, and modern recipes. It’s easy to acknowledge that today great barbecue can be found in many places throughout the United States. Check out some of these barbecue festivals!
Barbecue Festivals to check out
June 16-19th 2016
Check out this BBQ Ribfest in Ft Wayne, Indiana! This festival features some of the best, most awarded, BBQ grilling teams and awesome rockin’ blues bands from across the country. Whether you prefer hot and spicy or sweet and tangy, your taste buds will never have it so good, unless of course you have been part of our party before.
June 18th -19th 2016
The 6 Corners BBQ Fest is an annual cook-out in Chicago’s Northwest side featuring a variety of fun activities for the whole family. Festivalgoers are treated to variety of grilled delectables ranging from baby back ribs and pulled pork to turkey legs and beef brisket. It also features a variety of attractions like live music, wrestling, puppet shows, dance workshops, karate demos and more.
Sept 9-11, 2016
Enjoy some of the best BBQ in Danville, KY! The Kentucky State BBQ Festival has been named a Top 20 Event by the Southeast Tourism Society! Check out their website for more information.
References: Smithsonian Mag