Kalamazoo's Kitchen BBQ Guide: A History of Barbecue & More

Barbecuing is a cooking method in which cuts of meat, often large, are cooked over indirect heat. This is typically done using a barbecue pit or grill. It is a slow method of cooking that produces tender, succulent meat. Pork and beef are often the types of food that are barbecued, although chicken may also be cooked using this method. Often the word barbecuing is used interchangeably with the term grilling. This is incorrect. Although similar, grilling is simply another method of cooking food; however it is done quickly on a hot grill using direct heat. There are also different types of barbecue. These barbecue types are regional and include Memphis Style, Texas Style, Carolina Style, and Kansas City Style barbecue. The differences between the barbecue styles are in the meat, sauce, and/or types of rub or other seasoning used. Serious barbecue enthusiasts typically have a favorite type of BBQ, are extremely loyal, and will often feel that their style of barbecue is the best. This is, of course, a matter of personal preference.

One of the most desirable aspects of barbecuing is that nearly anyone can do it. Most often, it is a method of cooking that men favor. All that is needed is the right equipment and an outdoor space. Learning to barbecue at home is a fun way to cook and is ideal for family gatherings, particularly during the summer months. When a person learns to barbecue, he or she will want to experience the different styles and their flavors. This will help determine which type of barbecue they favor the most and will add variety. When learning to barbecue, a person will better appreciate the art if they learn as much as possible about it. This means learning not only the different styles, but also the history behind barbecuing in the United States. A person may even wish to experience professional barbecues at competitions held across the country. This is a good way to sample different barbecue styles.

History of Barbecue

Some believe that the word "barbecue" comes from the Spanish word barbacoa. This word refers to a method of cooking meat slowly over a heated wooden platform or coals. The term was used by the Spanish regarding the way that natives in the Caribbean cooked. This could be one of the first mentions of barbecue. Others, however, believe that the word may be derived from phrases that originate from Haiti, France or Germany.

The exact history of barbecuing in the United States is uncertain, but it appears to center around the Southern part of the nation. Prior to the Civil War, residents living in the South ate large quantities of pork. In fact, they ate pork more than beef five to one, and the slaughter of the animal became a time for celebration. This celebration was often held by plantation owners and included barbecuing of the pig or hog. In the fifty years that led up to the War these gatherings became increasingly popular. Pork became such an important food supply to the Southern part of the nation that little if any was exported out of the South. As a result, hogs became well fed animals and when slaughtered, no part was wasted.

Barbecues went from private gatherings of Plantation owners to events held by politicians and churches. This began to occur in the 19th century. Eventually barbecue pits became places where people would sell the meat that they cooked. This evolved and soon walls and roofs were placed around these pits until they eventually became restaurants with seating and tables for guests. Post civil war, and into the 20th century, barbecue became a common food amongst African-Americans due to the fact that the meat was often inexpensive. When African-Americans traveled from the South, they took their recipes with them to the North and other areas of the country. As a result, many of the barbecue restaurants were black-owned and were a location where people ate regardless of color. Barbecue establishments even became a part of the Civil Rights Movement. Many of the white-owned establishments in the South were segregated, and some eventually faced discrimination lawsuits.

Barbecue Recipes

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