Saturday, August 11, 2012

Summer is barbecue. A guy even wrote a book about it called Barbecue the History of an American Institution by Robert F. Moss. Sure, eating charred animal remains outdoors can be considered an institution. Well, maybe. A long day playing outdoors can make anyone hungry, so heat up some meat and when you see it not jiggling any more it is probably done and good to eat . Is that all there is to it?
In the summer where there is smoke there is fire and where there is fire there is barbecue; either way, just follow your nose that is following the aroma. Not only is it all American or that you just associate it with summertime but it is actually tied into the 4th of July and celebrating American Independence all the way back to the first celebrations in this country at least from the colonists right after the Revolutionary War.
Robert says that barbecue is older than the United States. The cooking method originated with the Caribbean Indians . The American Colonists learned from them and it did not take long for the new politicians to pledge allegiance to the red white and barbecue. Politicians figured out that if you want to get people together way before there was radio or TV or any type of mass communication, the best way to draw people is to have a barbecue because you can draw thousands of people together.
Long trenches were dug into the ground and the meat was cooked using whatever wood that was on hand. Eventually a politician would climb up on a log to talk and then the term the stump speech was born. One of the largest political barbecue’s ever held was for the 1923 Inauguration for Governor Jack Walton of Oklahoma where some 80 thousand people came to that barbecue. Requests for people to find something to cook up were made throughout the day.
Today we live in the United States of barbecue where there are regions of the country known for their distinctive style of cooking and sauces. There is Eastern North Carolina, Piedmont North Carolina, Midlands North Carolina, and Pedi region North Carolina that has a distinctive style of cooking. Then there is Georgia, Northern Alabama barbecue which is as distinct as is Memphis, Tennessee.
In Texas you have four different styles. You got the East Texas style, Central Texas, the Baracoa tradition that comes out of Mexico and the West Texas cowboy style. You can even say Kansas has a distinct barbecue as does Kentucky and then go all the way to find a California style.
Then there is the matter of sauce. Vinegar is used in North Carolina and Georgia but red sauce is used in Texas and Kansas City. There is only one place where you will find white barbecue sauce and that is in Northern Alabama where the sauce was invented in 1925 at Big Bob Gibson’s Bar-B-Q which has a marinade based sauce with vinegar, black pepper and a bunch of other secret ingredients. Ok, now I’m really hungry for some nicely cooked seasoned meat somewhere. I’m gonna have to take a eating road trip. Want to join me?
According to Moss who wrote this book, all these different styles of cooking and different kinds of sauces date only to the turn of the 20th Century when barbecue moved from the pit to the restaurant. The very first McDonald’s served barbeque before they went to burgers and fries. Of course there are still places that cook the old fashioned way in pits like Scott’s Variety Store and Barbecue in Hemingway, South Carolina where mop sauce is applied with an actual mop.
There are people that chop down the pecan, oak and hickory wood to use to smoke a whole hog for a unbelievable cook out. Those people elevate barbeque to an artistic level and you taste the meat and chew the meat a little longer before you swallow the meat for an orgasmic taste experience. Now top that off with a good cold beverage of choice and someone you really like looking at, well, life can’t get any better. Enjoy!
How often do you barbecue during the summer?
More than once a week 31%
Once or twice a month 26%
Once a week 19%
Hardly ever 13%
Never 10%
Source: CBS News Poll

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