In the United States, itis rare to throw a backyard party without barbecue.
Barbecue is common in the South where it’s understanding isdifferent for different people. In Texas, for instance, barbecue is understoodas beef and brisket for that matter. In North Carolina, on the other hand,barbecue means pork. What is common is the universal understanding that barbecue, generally, is meat regardless of whattype of meat that is. Barbecue is not confinedto those places. Today, there is Japanese barbecue, Greek barbecue, andMongolian Barbecue and so forth.
The delicacy has evolved from what it was initiallyand has acquired the different meanings harbored by different people. Historytraces this delicacy to the SouthAmericas where it started as a way of preserving meat. This paper will try toprovide an understanding of the meal andits history. Barbecue, as stated, isunderstood differently by various people.
North Carolinians know that barbecue is madeof up of pork cooked over hickory coals and accompanied by such seasonings asvinegar and red pepper pods. This is notfar from the meaning of the word barbecue. The word is viewed as a derivative of the West Indian term “barbacoa,” whichrepresents a slow method of cooking meat over hot coals (MacClancy, 1992). Many other theories seek to explain the originof the word, but the West Indian term provides the most plausible explanation. Despitethese many theories, it is widely agreed that the practice of roastingmeat over pieces of coal was adopted fromthe indigenous people during the colonial period. From them, the early settlerschanged barbacoa to barbecue, which became their lexicon. Aside from its little-understood etymology, barbecue’s historyis clear.
It started, as stated, with the Southerners. In the Southern parts ofthe United States, pig became an ever-present source of food. Pigs were low tomaintain and a good source of food.
It was the most popular meat-food in theSouth in the period before the Civil War. Pigs would be released out into theforest, and whenever food supplies werelow or depleted, the Southerners would hunt them and use them for food. Thepigs were not only a source of food but also a delicacy during celebrations. Outof these celebrations, the traditionalSouthern barbecue emerged. The region from which this tradition emerged wasNorth Carolina. According to William Byrd, in one of his books, pigs were astaple commodity in North Carolina.
The North Carolinians consumed so muchswine that they were as temperamental as pigs and grunted rather than speaking(Taylor, 1982).After the colonial periodwas over, the practice of holding barbecue gatherings was well established. However, the traditions associated with largebarbecues had taken root in the fifty years beforethe civil war. During this time, largefarm owners held large barbecues for celebrations.
Some of the festivitieswhere barbecues were present included the”pig pickin’s” held for slaves (Hillard,2014). Pork production was also an importanttask during the pre-Civil War period. However, almost all of the produced pork was consumed locally. The farmers in the regionbegan taking better care of the pigs and ensured they were well fed.
The reasonfor these was to fatten them before slaughter. They helped provide a self-sufficient way of providing food for theSoutherners (Hillard, 2014). As more and more pigs became fattened andslaughtered for food, barbecues also became many ensuring the full establishmentof the practice. Later, in the nineteenthcentury, barbecue gained more popularity and became a common thing in churchand political events the same way it was in private parties (Egerton, 1987). A barbecue became a popular and inexpensive means for lobbying for votes.
Organizersof political events would provide people with barbecue,and at times it was accompanied bywhiskey (Bass, 1995). Barbecue also breached the class division duringgatherings. It was a not food for people of a specific class and thus broughtpeople of all kind together political, andchurch barbecues were the first to bring all people together.
During churchpicnics, barbecue would be served withother covered foods prepared by the women of the church. Today, this practiceis still common in the South (Bass, 1995).From these practices, barbecuerestaurants also cropped up where the owners served takeaway barbecue.
These restaurants grew from small, concrete, andtin-roofed shacks which later saw stools and tables added to them and pigadorned on the outside of the building. Upon the advent of the automobiles,these restaurants became more popular and profitable due to the customers whocame from far places (Wilson,2014). Today, there are different typesof barbecues that serve all kinds of people.
The history of barbecue providesan interesting story and depicts thevaried history of the Southerners. Barbecue joints have flourished for the pastseveral decades and have become overly popular.Although they are time sensitive and require a lot of care to prepare, theyhave endured and become a delicacy for all. It has become a Southern symbolwhere pig arts adorn most of the restaurants in the region.
As noted, thepractice emerged from the region, and although the name’s history cannot be definitively placed to certain people or period, the Southerners areindeed the originators of the food. Pigs today remain popular for barbecue in the region.