Barbecue is one of the most American dishes, up there with apple pie and cheeseburgers. At the same time, few foods have regional variations that inspire such fierce loyalty among locals. No doubt, this dish is an important part of American culture. But who invented barbecue?
According to the most accredited versions, barbecue was originally a method for cooking meat common among the indigenous people of the island that Columbus called Hispaniola, or today’s Haiti and Dominican Republic.
In fact, the word “barbecue” itself (just like “barbacoa” in Spanish) comes from the language of the Taino, the tribe that inhabited Hispaniola.
The Taino slow-cooked meat using green wood to prevent the food and wood from burning. The conquistadores took this idea with them and by the 19th century it was a well-established tradition in the American South.
The culinary preferences of colonial immigrants marked the next step in the evolution of barbecue, with four distinct styles emerging.
- Memphis: living near a busy port, Memphians had access to all sort of goods, including molasses, which explains the uniquely sweet taste of this type of barbecue, which is typically made with pork ribs and shoulders
- North Carolina: made with pulled pork and vinegar-based sauces that reflect the tastes of British colonists.
- Kansas City: derived from the Memphis style, Kansas City barbecue is sweet and spicy but not limited to pork; it also includes beef
- Texas: Texans have cattle aplenty, so beef became one of the most distinctive traits of their barbecue
Today, the “barbecue belt” stretches from the Carolinas to Texas and Missouri and from Kentucky to the Deep South. And while the soul of barbecue resides there, its flavor is enjoyed all over the world.
Learn More About Iconic dishes
At Chef Gourmet we know good food, and we love to share that knowledge with you. These are some previous posts where you can learn more about iconic dishes:
- 4 Reasons Why Italian Food Is so Popular
- Tofu: 5 Frequently Asked Questions
- How Tomatoes Conquered the World
- Soba Noodles: Everything You Need to Know
- Marinara: the Story Behind the Legendary Italian Sauce
- A Brief History of Tacos
- A Culinary History of Pineapple
Try Our BBQ Pulled Pork!
At Chef Gourmet, we love barbecue so much that have included BBQ Pulled Pork among our Gourmet prepared meals.
We work with local suppliers we know and trust. Thanks to this philosophy, we can support our communities while offering you dishes made with the freshest ingredients.
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