However, many people evaluate the history of barbecue and think it comes
from the Spanish word "Barbacoa" which suggests barbecue
is a Spanish concept. There is even an interesting idea about how the
letters BBQ came to represent this style of cooking. It supposedly stems
from earlier days when roadhouses and beer joints with pool tables would
advertise, 'Bar, Beer, and Cues', later shortened to BBCue, and somehow
evolved into BBQ. I also read somewhere that it was originally 'Beer,
Burgers, and Que,'which, somehow, seems more reasonable. Perhaps, as barbecue history continues to be written, a
thousand years from now, people will give credit to Barbie dolls. Maybe
by then people will have 'Barbie-cues?' Oh well, never mind.
Whatever the origin of the word,
the practice is just as nebulous. It stands to reason that primitive
cultures all over the world naturally gravitated to cooking over open
flame because it was all they had. So, to say that the practice of barbecue,
as we know it, definitely evolved from one culture, or one area, would
be incorrect. More likely, as the world grew smaller and cultures mixed,
we combined ideas and methods until, today, we have thousands of different
ways to practice the art. And, make no mistake, barbecuing is as much
art as science. All cooking is, for that matter. Today, we have diluted
and convoluted the word until the term has come to mean various ways
of cooking such as over an open fire, over coals, on a spit, in an oven
with sauce, over a fire pit, on a gas grill or even in an electric rotisserie.
Barbecue or Grilling?
Most of the country considers cooking
on a gas or charcoal grill as barbecue, but, in fact, this
is the grill, not barbecue. Likewise, cooking over an open flame is
not, technically, barbecuing but dry roasting.
So what is barbecue? It is all
of the above. Giving an accurate, all-encompassing definition is nearly
impossible. I am, by barbecue, like a Supreme Court judge once was about
pornography. In attempting to give a description of the practice he
could only say, "I can't define it, but I know it when I see it!"
Same with BBQ or Barbecue, or 'Cue, or BBQ, or, as they say
down under, 'having a Barbie' (shades of Ken and Barbie!) or whatever
you call it: I can't exactly define it, but I know it when I see it
(and taste it!).
Any meat can be barbecued. In the
early part of the century, the area of New York was well known for barbecue
turtle. New York does not now spring to mind when one thinks of BBQ.
Nor does turtle, for that matter. On the eastern coast, and in the Deep
South, pork tends to be the meat of choice while in Texas, naturally,
beef is the first choice. BBQ (along with the Blues) came to Chicago
via the migration of slaves seeking freedom and peace during the civil
war. Chicago barbecue tends to favor the sweet, tomato-based sauce as
in the southeastern US.
In the part of the world where I
come from (Southern US) it is not barbecue until it has been cooked
with the sauce and various spices that make up the concept of barbecue.
And, down there, not all barbecue is done over a fire or hot coals.
It is often done in an oven. And, sometimes, the recipe calls for a
multi-step procedure such as grilling the meat, then putting it into
a large roasting pan, covering with sauce, and baking for an hour. Sometimes
the grilled meat (already glazed with sauce while roasting) is put into
a large pot of boiling 'cue sauce and simmered a bit more before serving.
However you do it, it is the way to a man's heart, especially if he
gets to cook it, present it, and get all the praise. So moms, take a
'cue from me and this Father's day give Dad a B.B.Q. grill, then stand
back and let him fly.
A Few Barbecue Tips
Be sure that whatever method you
use to barbecue, you have very high heat.
Meat cooks better when at room temperature.
It chars better, and the center of medium steaks will not be cold when
served. It also cooks faster, so be on your toes! To boost the smokiness of any meat,
add a little liquid smoke flavoring to the sauce or brush on the meat
while cooking. Tomato based sauces should not be
brushed on the meat until just before it is ready to come off the grill.
The high sugar content of these sauces along with the tomato base tends
to scorch if long exposed to heat. I like my meat 'flamed', that is,
I like to have big flames come up from the grill and lick the meat a
bit before removing. To achieve this, just before removing that nice
steak or ribs, pour about 1/2 cup of cooking oil on the coals beneath
the meat. And, guys, it always seems to impress the ladies to see your
manly self, braving those roaring flames.
When planning to serve ribs, allow
at least 1 pound per person. If the ribs are to be used as appetizers,
allow 2 to 3 individual ribs (depending on size) per person.
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