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America's Barbeculture: Who Owns It?


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I'll take a crack at describing the panel today at the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party. For those not following the action live on the NY Board, this was the second annual event put together by Danny Meyer, showcasing barbecue from around the country (and providing us needy New Yorkers with the REAL DEAL). Anyone else who was there is welcome to make additions, corrections, etc. I didn't take notes, so I'm sure to get some things wrong. Jump in any time.

Panelists were:

Lolis Eric Elie, a columnist for the New Orleans Times-Picayune and author of Smokestack Lightning (and, iirc, former tour manager for Branford Marsalis)

Jack Hitt, a native Carolinian (I forget which) and contributing writer for Harpers, GQ, Lingua Franca, and the NY Times Magazine

Colman Andrews, editor in chief of Saveur

Robb Walsh, cookbook author and eGullet member, who moderated.

Lolis Eric Elie (I've never heard him referred to by anything less than his full name) spoke on the Southern origins of barbecue, from both black and white cultures. He alleged that because people from the South are viewed as somehow less intelligent, less accomplished, etc. by people in the North, possibly especially the Northeast (we who believe ourselves to be the font of all that is right and good), so barbecue is not taken seriously. (Well, I think he is wrong about just about all of that. I hope someone will say I got his presentation wrong.) He also scoffed at the idea that barbecue could possibly mean a few hot dogs and hamburgers thrown on a grill with lighter fluid-doused charcoal briquets (invented, incidentally, by Henry Ford to use up the waste products from wood-framed autos) and cooked in 15 minutes. (He's right about that, though.)

Jack Hitt presented a clear case of politicization of barbecue, as it happened in South Carolina. Some background: there are three styles of barbecue sauces there: mustard-based (hated by most of the rest of the country, and most popular with angry-white-guy supporters of Bush); tomato-based, somewhat like the sauces of the Midwest (favored by progressives, I think he said); and vinegar-based, as popular in North Carolina (beloved by ??????? Anyway, some academic actually charted the sauce preferences against voting patterns). Shortly after the decision was made to (finally) stop flying the Confederate flag over the state capitol, a mustard-sauce-favoring barbecue purveyor named Maurice Bessinger literally surrounded Columbia with gigantic Confederate flags atop his stores. This led to quite a brouhaha, with boycotts, pronouncements from prominent clergymen, and such. His sauce was banned by supermarkets. But wait! Another mustard-based sauce appeared, made by . . . Mel Bessinger, his long-estranged brother. People suggested that it might be a ruse, and it was really that racist Maurice's sauce. But Mel swore that he hadn't even spoken to Maurice in 25 years, and his son (David) said he was ashamed to carry that name. For a while, they took the Bessinger name off the sauce. When the governor was going to have a big barbecue fest at his inauguration, he had to be dissuaded from offering only the mustard kind, lest he commit political suicide. Someone said something about how awful it was that barbecue should be so politicized; after all, what would be next, French fries? Uh, yeah: "freedom fries" came about shortly thereafter.

Colman Andrews spoke on the distinction between barbecue as a cooking method and as a culture unto itself, much the way the word art has evolved from a meaning of creative work to one of high craft -- which is what he said applies to chefs. (I kind of lost concentration while he was talking, because HWOE arrived with brisket and sausage from Salt Lick around then.)

In talking about the research he did for his Legends of Texas Barbeque Cookbook, Robb Walsh mentioned how he initally was given the story that barbecue came over with the German and Czech settlers, who adapted their roasting methods, and developed by cowboys, particularly a rancher with the initials B.Q., whose ranch was known by its brand, Bar-B-Q. But the more he dug into real history, he found evidence of what sure looked like barbecue being cooked by black slaves long before either of those groups even existed in Texas. He questioned an historian friend -- how could those stories be so widely accepted, ludicrous as they might be, when clearly barbecue came from blacks? Well, said the friend, after the Civil War, the rest of the country romanticized Texas as the home of the cowboy. And Texans, wishing to distance themselves from the defeated South, decided to become part of the West and base their myths on the same ones the rest of America was believing. So anything based in Southern culture was tossed out, and belief in the dime novel took over.

After the presentations, the floor was open for questions from the audience. Both =Mark and slkinsey asked good questions, which unfortunately by now I've forgotten, along with the answers. A woman from Smoki O's in St. Louis (the pig snoot people) asked about the contribution of Native Americans to the development of barbecue; the answer acknowledged that indigenous North Americans were doing it for years before anyone arrived from elsewhere, but mostly dealt with the Caribbean Indians on Hispaniola whom the Spaniards saw cooking that way. Finally, Fat Guy asked about the Jewish contribution to the development of barbecue, particularly with pastrami -- a spice-rubbed, smoked, slow-cooked form of beef brisket (a cut of meat widely used by many barbecue practitioners around the country). After fumferring around for a while, saying among other things that pastrami is smoked and smoking is not barbecuing :hmmm: , Colman Andrews said there has been no Jewish contribution.

And then it was over, and the eG crowd chatted amongst ourselves and with others, and went off in search of short lines.

Edited by Suzanne F (log)
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did anyone happen to mention a mexican influence in texas- "barbacoa?" i often wonder if the spanish word is actually spanglish instead.

A Caribbean native connection was mentioned as the probable origin of the word "barbecue". This was in response to the woman from Smoki O's.

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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Barbacoa comes from Hispaniola, and yes, it was mentioned.

Thanks for that excellent summary, Suzanne. A few remarks:

Jack Hitt, a native Carolinian (I forget which)

Presumably South Carolina.

Lolis Eric Elie (I've never heard him referred to by anything less than his full name) spoke on the Southern origins of barbecue, from both black and white cultures. He alleged that because people from the South are viewed as somehow less intelligent, less accomplished, etc. by people in the North, possibly especially the Northeast (we who believe ourselves to be the font of all that is right and good), so barbecue is not taken seriously. (Well, I think he is wrong about just about all of that. I hope someone will say I got his presentation wrong.)

He basically did say that, but he went further: He said that to Southerners, the idea of a New Yorker thinking he can make barbecue is laughable, because it's so much bound up with the identity of Southerners.

I also thought his main point was that whites have tried to appropriate barbecue for themselves and downplay the importance of blacks in inventing barbecue or at least bringing it to the US. He talked about there always having been some black man on the other side of the tracks who made the great barbecue in a small town and that in days gone by, it was the blacks who cooked the barbecue for the whites while they stood around waiting - in the days of slavery and subsequently, when blacks were hired as servants.

Robb Walsh essentially corroborated Elie's points by discussing the history of barbecue in Texas, as documentary evidence shows barbecue was apparently brought to East Texas by slaves on plantations.

I thought Jack Hitt's remarks about barbecue and politics in South Carolina were absolutely fascinating!

tomato-based, somewhat like the sauces of the Midwest (favored by progressives, I think he said)

Yes, served in pockets of progressive areas of the state.

and vinegar-based, as popular in North Carolina (beloved by ???????

Beloved by independent voters, who I believe he said were concentrated in the north of the state (he may have mentioned other places).

Also, you left out that there is another Bessinger brother who owns a restaurant on the road from I believe Columbia to Savannah, who thinks it's awful that the other two brothers have aired their hatred for each other in public and is not a racist but just a businessman who wants to serve all customers - and Hitt thinks that brother's mustard sauce is actually the best of the Bessingers' sauces.

Colman Andrews spoke on the distinction between barbecue as a cooking method and as a culture unto itself, much the way the word art has evolved from a meaning of creative work to one of high craft -- which is what he said applies to chefs. (I kind of lost concentration while he was talking, because HWOE arrived with brisket and sausage from Salt Lick around then.)

I felt like he got off on a bunch of tangents, so I'm not sure the brisket and sausage were the only reasons you lost concentration. Don't get me wrong, the things he said weren't uninteresting, but I didn't feel like he had a coherent narrative like the other three, but I remember he said that people in Connecticut argue about which state has the best pizza (something Lolis Eric Elie said at first people didn't argue about), and talked about how "barbecue" means something very different in places like Southern California, where he grew up, than in the South - that is, barbecue is to grill hotdogs, hamburgers, maybe vegetables and chicken on one of those metal contraptions with charcoal and lighter fluid. He also mentioned that when people put "barbecue sauce" (including "liquid smoke") on hotdogs and hamburgers, that they are getting part of the experience of "real barbecue" at a remove, and he thought that might be good in helping them to appreciate real barbecue if they ever get the chance to try some. I guess that's one way of looking at it.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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I find that panel discussions tend not to get really good until there's a second round of commentary and the panelists start to engage one another. I was therefore disappointed that Walsh chose to do a single round of speeches followed by questions from the audience. I was glad the eGulleters dominated the questioning, though, because it put the level of the questions several notches higher than the average ones you tend to get from an audience. Every single question was asked either by one of us or by the professionals from Smokie O's.

I threw out the pastrami question because I wanted to see if anybody would allow for Jewish barbecue. Of course, the answer was no even though pastrami is a spice-rubbed piece of meat that is slow-cooked in a smoker.

It was ironic to me that Lolis Elie chose to frame his comments in terms of Northerners giving Southerners no respect about barbecue. What the fuck is he talking about? Northerners worship the Southern barbecue culture. If there is any across-the-board failure of respect, it is a failure of the Southern barbecue culture to respect outsiders. Elie's comments echoed so many others I've heard in that they exhibited a sense of ownership of the tradition. He was primarily concerned with racial ownership, whereas others might be more concerned with regional ownership, but in the end there is often that sense of ownership.

Meanwhile, there we are in the middle of the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party, where all the pitmasters are out there trying to spread the word. Heck, Mike Mills is the consultant for Blue Smoke. I wish there had been at least one real Southern pitmaster on that panel. They seem to be more generous with the tradition than the Southern food writers.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Re: Fat Guy's question: Was it Colman Andrews who mentioned the barbecue event held at some synagogue in Memphis? That begin with the blessing of the briskets by the rabbi, and then everyone fires up.

And I remembered one of the questions: what effect do barbecue competitions have on the state of barbecue? All I remember of the answer is that the folks who compete are not really making barbecue, they're just indulging in a hobby, much as if they were playing golf.

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. . . Of course, the answer was no even though pastrami is a spice-rubbed piece of meat that is slow-cooked in a smoker. . . .

So what then is a definition of barbecue, if not that? I wish they'd addressed that part of the idea of "barbeculture," since clearly it's more than a cooking method, more than a regional food -- I still don't fully understand what it IS (but I know it when I see it. :raz: )

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I know this is real and serious business, and I'm glad to see it being discussed seriously, but at the same time... Suzanne, your account of Jack Hitt's presentation had me laughing till I fell out of my chair. "But wait!" Thank you, funny lady, for a great guffaw.

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Jack Hitt's presentation was in fact hilarious!

Those folks are really doing anthropology of food and food history. I called my mother (a well-known anthropologist, for those of you who don't know) and gave her some highlights which she found very interesting.

By the way, I didn't react negatively to Lolis Elie's presentation. I thought he was very funny and I may have been wrong, but I didn't think his remarks about Northern stereotypes of Southerners were meant 100% seriously.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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And I remembered one of the questions: what effect do barbecue competitions have on the state of barbecue? All I remember of the answer is that the folks who compete are not really making barbecue, they're just indulging in a hobby, much as if they were playing golf.

No, the answer given was more that overall, it was a mixed effect in that it was good if it brought real BBQ (rather than "grilling" to people's attention), but bad in that it marginalized BBQ into camps--that certain styles were rewarded more than others (read: "the white styles"--remember, this question was answered about 90% by Mr. Elie), because literally "falling off the bone" is seen as a bad thing in BBQ competition, and the down-home types tend to make it that way because it's better eating, even if it doesn't look as pretty.

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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I would highly reccomend that you guys get a copy of "Smokestack Lightning" or at least borrow one and read it. L.E.E. makes some damn good points (including expansion on his remarks today involving the origins of barbeque) and there are very few people that I can think of who have as good a working knowledge of the whole spectrum of BBQ in North America from El Paso (barbacoa) and on to the North and East. I am sure that you can get it at the library, but the nice folks at Amazon will be glad to send you a reasonably priced softcover version.

I didn't think his remarks about Northern stereotypes of Southerners were meant 100% seriously

We just do that to rile ya'll up. It's just good fun. We understand that you love and respect us. :hmmm:

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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Well, many stereotypes exist because there is some degree of truth in them. So sure, there are some Northerners who have an anti-Southern prejudice, and vice versa. That's why I found Elie's remarks funny - because he's right that some people think the way he described. If any of you haven't seen footage of Bill Cosby's standup acts in the 60s, check it out some time. He cracked up audiences by making jokes about race relations. Those jokes were funny for much the same reasons - there was truth contained within the humor.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Allright then. I'm sitting here licking duck fat off my fingers. (No comments, you guys.)

So, like, you guys can now finally answer our question? Am I like, grilling, or am I, like, baaaarbecuuuuing?

Is it a time thing? A sauce thing? A si=i=i=ze thing?

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Mary Baker

Solid Communications

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Allright then. I'm sitting here licking duck fat off my fingers. (No comments, you guys.)

So, like, you guys can now finally answer our question? Am I like, grilling, or am I, like, baaaarbecuuuuing?

Is it a time thing? A sauce thing? A si=i=i=ze thing?

Are you cooking at a relatively low temperature, for a long time, and capturing/trapping smoke into what you are cooking?

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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The whole enterprise of defining barbecue is fraught with difficulty. The low-and-slow definition falls apart when you start to include Texas barbecue as practiced at places like Kreuz's and Smitty's in Lockhart, where they deal exactly in grilled meat. You'll also find that whole hogs, considered by many to be the pinnacle of barbecue, pick up so little smoke flavor that they are not so terribly different when cooked with wood, charcoal, gas, or electricity. Nonetheless, many in the whole hog crowd will tell you that only a whole pit-roasted animal is real barbecue -- that everything else, such as cooking ribs and chicken no matter how low and slow, is grilling. The sauce-based definitions all collapse because the sauces are as different as ketchup and mustard.

As I commented a couple of years ago, when writing about Texas barbecue: "Stylistic definitions are a bit more insightful, but it may be that there are no clear barbecue definitions anymore (if there ever have been at all). They certainly can't be derived from the menus on offer at barbecue establishments (only about ten percent of a typical barbecue menu will conform to the alleged regional traditions), or from the ordering habits of locals (chicken, which as far as I know has no barbecue tradition behind it and which doesn't make for particularly good barbecue anyway, is a big seller almost everywhere), or from the history books (I suggest you not read about culinary history at all if you want to believe there are very many traditional, local, authentic foods anywhere in the world). Even the much-discussed distinctions between Eastern North Carolina and Western North Carolina barbecue fail to hold up consistently in the real world as you travel across that state. The most authoritative-sounding definitions tend to come from the rulebooks of the regional barbecue associations that administer barbecue competitions, but these hardly seem relevant outside that circumscribed arena."

The barbeculturists, then, tend overwhelmingly to offer definitions that proceed from regional assumptions: they gather up all the barbecue styles and say the sum total of what's served in America's traditional barbecue regions equals barbecue. They tend to be fearful of excluding any Southern or Southern-derived (as in the barbecue satellites in Illinois and California) barbecue style, yet they have no problem at all defining everything else as not barbecue. So it winds up being a steadfast but ultimately tautological definition tantamount to "French food is the food traditionally served in France" and by extension a chauvinistic one as well: "French food is food cooked only by French people."

Elie seems to be focused on the issue of giving credit to African-Americans for their role in the creation of barbecue. And he's certainly right that the redneck white supremacist crowd has tried to expropriate barbecue history. But to me, the whole issue of credit and ownership is just that: history. There is a compelling case for giving credit where credit is due, but it ends there. Barbecue now belongs to all of America and all Americans, as much or (because it is largely indigenous) more so than pizza, hamburgers, tacos, chili, bagels, and deli.

I think it's great that there are folks out there who seek to preserve regional barbecue styles and especially the diversity of those styles. And I appreciate all the research that goes into doing it. I certainly give the African-American community a ton of the historical credit for the development of barbecue. But once those points are made, isn't it time to get over this whole notion of ownership? The seminar was entitled "America's Barbeculture: Who Owns It?" That's just not a hard question to answer. It's answered by the very form of the question: America owns "America's Barbeculture." Who do you think owns it? France? But hey, if they want to cook it and eat it in France -- and I'm sure they'd do a nice job if they put their minds to it -- they can own it too. And while I understand there is a nomenclature variance when it comes to Korean barbecue and Chinese barbecue, I'd be reluctant to say, sorry, those things aren't barbecue. At most I'd say they're not hyphenated Southern-barbecue or any specific hyphenated American regional style.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Allright then.  I'm sitting here licking duck fat off my fingers.  (No comments, you guys.) 

So, like, you guys can now finally answer our question?  Am I like, grilling, or am I, like, baaaarbecuuuuing?

Is it a time thing?  A sauce thing?  A si=i=i=ze thing?

From what I heard, it is NOT a sauce thing. While sauce may be used to define regional tastes, it is not required for the primal experience. The basic elements seem to be:

  • Time: long
  • Temperature: low
  • Smoke: present as an integral part of the cooking medium
  • Fuel: essential as the source of smoke

One distinction that Colman Andrews alluded to but never quite fully discussed was the noun-versus-verb problem. Seems to me, barbecue is first and foremost a NOUN. The problem came about when it was turned into a verb, and some of its attributes were lost.

(But what do I know? I'm just a second-generation American Jewess from Flushing, Queens, New York.)

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I will say I've had plenty of whole hog barbecue with a prominent smoke flavor -- mine, for example! :smile:

I think in NC terms, at least, it's important to understand that mere smoking does not create barbecue. Using an indirect smoking source would not likely satisfy the purists of the crowd, as the pork must be cooked directly over the heat source that is also the smoke source. Where things get a bit crazy is when the heat source is gas or electric but there is a separate chamber to add smoke to the mix. It tastes fine, most people will call it barbecue, but it doesn't satisfy the purists' definition.

Oh, and who owns America's Barbeculture? We do, of course. Let's treat it with the respect it deserves. Let's all bow our heads in reverence now. :wink:

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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Since we're talking definitions, could anyone explain where the "barbeque = outdoor grilled meat" heresy originated?

I know that it's very naughty to use the word barbeque to mean "food quickly cooked outside over gas or coal". Nevertheless, this is how 99.9% of people here in the UK use the word. If I invited people over for some 'grilling', they would assume either we'd be eating cheese sandwiches from the oven or that I'd tie them to a chair and ask them where they hid the diamonds.

So how is it that a word that US purists apply only to slow-cooked, smoky meat came to be applied to the no-less-honourable but very different tradition of the braai?

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A wonderful topic. Thank you all for your contributions. First, a little personal background, which probably means nothing. I enjoy history. I majored in business so I could get a job, and I minored in history bacause I love it. I enjoy eating in non-chain restaurants around the country (I have been in 44 of our 50 states plus several provinces and estados) and have for years before I found any of these message boards. These message boards seem to have been designed for me even though I had nothing to do with the development of any of them.

One observation from all of this is that many of us seem to equate Mom's cooking and the local cuisine as the best, and the rest is interesting, but not quite authentic. This is especially true with barbeque. I have lived in Oklahoma City for 5 years, New Mexico for 21 years, Kansas City for 13 years, and Atlanta for 22 years. That is 18 years in beef country, 21 years in sheep country and 22 years in pork country. Every one of those areas seems to think that they have a lock on the preparation of REAL barbeque.

With keeping an open mind, one can enjoy fine barbeque and tremendous variety. For several years in Kansas City, I was privileged to be invited to a friend's goat roast. Here in Georgia, for several years, I was a part of an annual pig roast. Both were wonderful experiences. I love barbeque of all kinds, including chicken and turkey - which historically don't belong at all. The myriad sauce choices in the local grocery stores is incredible. The mathematical possibilities with the various meats, various ribs, various birds, various sausages and all of these sauces is mind boggling. I can't keep track of what I haven't yet tried.

Some (my youngest daughter is a prime example) find something they enjoy and then eat it ad nauseum. I tend to choose whatever I have never tasted before choosing a familiar item. Most people seem to be somewhere in between my dauther and me - and none of those positions are inherently wrong.

My background always taught that barbacoa was the origin of our word barbeque. Now, I am not so sure. It seems apparent to me that many people and groups of people have contributed to the evolution of barbeque - and that is wonderful. Now that bison, emu and ostrich are available in markets, they seem like wonderful meats for barbecue. Has anyone tried any of these? Or any other exotic meats? Wild game seems perfect for slow cooking - venison, elk, bear. I am excited about the continuing possiblities and the continuing evolution of barbeque.

If we (whoever we are) didn't own barbeculture originally, we certainly can claim partial equity now.

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Unfortunately, the only thing that acquires smoke flavor when I light the Weber is me. My hair, my hands . . . but that phenomenon has been omitted so I guess it doesn't count. Therefore, when I'm smoking only myself, I am grilling.

Okay.

Size and a relaxed attitude toward getting it done today seem to be key. Sauces are accessories. So the guys here who do "Santa Maria" barbecue--whole tritips slathered with chipotle cooked over medium-low heat from walnut firewood in huge drum (barbecue-like) units--that's barbecue. Our barbecue.

I do prefer the term "grilling" for stuff that's quickly sizzled. "Barbecue" to me has always meant tender meat that falls off in handfuls, or fatty, tender ribs with enough sauce to cover me from nose to chest.

You guys crack me up, by the way! :laugh:

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Mary Baker

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Since we're talking definitions, could anyone explain where the "barbeque = outdoor grilled meat" heresy originated?

I know that it's very naughty to use the word barbeque to mean "food quickly cooked outside over gas or coal". Nevertheless, this is how 99.9% of people here in the UK use the word. If I invited people over for some 'grilling', they would assume either we'd be eating cheese sandwiches from the oven or that I'd tie them to a chair and ask them where they hid the diamonds.

So how is it that a word that US purists apply only to slow-cooked, smoky meat came to be applied to the no-less-honourable but very different tradition of the braai?

Braai? Well I have no idea how the South Africans got it, but "BBQ"--what a lot of the world thinks of when they think of backyard grilling--is certainly a bastardization of "barbecue" (with a "c" not a "q"), and not the other way around.

The story of the Texas ranch owned by a guy with the initials "BQ"--who as many ranchers do had their product referred to by the brand put on his cattle--in this case a bar under the letters "BQ"--is patently bullshit, but it's not clear exactly where and when the story appeared. Is it just a tall tale to explain the different spellings? Part of a comedy routine? Something used in ad copy somewhere in the 1950's or 60's which has become apparent "history"? Who knows.

I'm thinking of the history of backyard grilling. When I was a VERY young kid, very few people had gas grills--that movement really started about 15-20 years ago. It was the old charcoal briquette thing, over a very temporary appliance meant, mostly, to hold the briquettes. That style of "BBQ" probably existed for half a century before the big propane monsters took over in, at least, America's backyards. And that use of charcoal briquettes, as was mentioned by the panel, was actually an invention of Henry Ford. Ford started a product line in Kingsford, Michigan called "Ford Charcoal Briquettes"--which later became the still existing "Kingsford Charcoal Briquettes"--which even today still exists as a going concern here in the U.S.

The point of the charcoal briquettes was originally a way for Ford to recycle the scrap wood used in the bodies of his cars. But the rationale in people buying them was probably just because it was a simulation of the "real thing"--cooking food over hickory or mesquite wood and capturing the smoke. And it was only MUCH later that people started using gas to cook--completely displacing the closer simulation of the "real thing".

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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I grew up in the Northeast (Boston) but have roots and spent much time in two major barbeque epicenters (Texas and NC). According to my childhood memories (the 70s), whenever I heard the word "barbeque" in TX or NC, it meant the real thing. In Boston, when someone was grilling in the back yard it was called a "cook out." I never heard the word "barbeque" in Boston.

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Nonetheless that usage is prevalent most everywhere in the English-speaking world outside of the US South. Even in this era where deference to the Southern noun-based concept has been growing, you have books coming out like The Barbecue Bible, from Steven Raichlen, which is mostly a book about grilling around the world. To most people outside the South, it's obvious that Raichlen's book will be about grilling and not about pit-cooking whole hogs. Rescuing a definition from common usage is always an uphill battle, so before embarking upon it one might consider whether it's desirable to do so. I don't think the Southern barbecue contingent is ever going to be able to do more than take possession of some hyphenated terms.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I don't think the Southern barbecue contingent is ever going to be able to do more than take possession of some hyphenated terms.

Don't worry. We'll be happy to continue using the word as we think is the common form. Folks in the South haven't worried too much about what the rest of the country thinks anyhow.

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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Oh, I agree it's come into the vernacular to mean grilling over charcoal briquettes -- most likely everywhere, including Boston. I just wonder when this started happening. Do many of us remember "barbeque" having the meaning "backyard grilling" back in the 70s?

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