A Brief History of BBQ: How the classic American outdoor cook-off came about…with a little help from the British!
By James Nye Daily Mail PUBLISHED: 22 July 2013
While the never ending battle for barbecue supremacy will continue to rage, the history of American barbecue is as diverse as the traditions themselves, moving through a path that begins in the Caribbean – and even involves help from the British.
Spanning across the famous ‘barbecue belt’ that runs from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, arguably no nation on Earth takes the primitive form of cooking as seriously as the United States of America.
Indeed, it was over five hundred years ago that Columbus first witnessed native tribes on the island of Hispaniola cooking meat over an indirect flame using green wood to keep the food from burning.
Historical records indicated that the Spanish explorers named this cooking style, ‘barbacoa’ – and eventually the technique made it onto the mainland – where it kept its traditional attachment to pork.
Purists argue that the meat used in BBQ must always be pork, because the tradition of southern cooks having to use the cheap, low maintenance hog as the meat in their barbecue pits.
This is because cows are expensive and need large amounts of food and land, unlike pigs who can be left to fend for themselves.
In pre-Civil War times, this meant that because the pig wasn’t cared for like a cow would be the meat would not be as fat and would need to be cooked slowly to tenderize.
Prior to 1861, Southerners ate an average of five pounds of pork for every one pound of cattle – and their reliance on this cheaper method of food lead to a form of patriotism that separated the richer north from south.
Despite the south’s historical attachment to the BBQ, primitive forms of cooking originated in the easternmost colonies.
The vinegar-based ‘whole hog’ barbecue that was started in Virginia made its way down to North Carolina and the technique of adding sauce to the meat as it cooks – is said to have originated with the British, despite their inglorious culinary history.
In South Carolina, where a large portion of French and German immigrants lived, mustard based sauces were created – both sweet and tart.
As the Carolina BBQ‘s grew in popularity, the fashion for slow cooking spread to Texas – where the rich German immigrants who lived their used the meat from the cattle they were herding.
Up the Mississippi River in Memphis, the sweet, tomato based sauces used were created by mixing molasses to get the unique taste.
And once BBQ had moved along to Kansas City, he mixed everything up, allowing not only pork to be used, but beef as well.
Expert Dotty Griffith refers to Kansas City barbecue in the Smithsonian Magazine as the ultimate amalgamation of East and West (Texas) barbecue.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2373134/A-Brief-History-BBQ-How-classic-American-outdoor-cook-came–little-help-British.html#ixzz2Zl8M6YYQ
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