BBQ Month: A Bite Sized History of American Barbecue

professional culinary photo of smoked ribs on a wooden cutting board, dressed with BBQ sauce and romaine lettuce

This historical accuracy of barbecue (BBQ) ranges between Texas where beef is commonly used, Memphis where mutton is choice, and the Carolinians who prefer pork.

The actual history of barbecue began when Columbus witnessed native Hispaniola island tribes cooking meat over indirect flame with green wood. Spanish explorers named this style of cooking “barbacoa” and eventually the technique came to the U.S.

Eastern-most colonies also used primitive forms of slow cooking for pork, beginning with vinegar-based ‘whole hog’ barbecue in Virginia, which eventually it made its way down to the Carolinas.

Eventually the fashion for slow cooking spread to Texas, where German immigrants mixed it up by using beef. Up the Mississippi River in Memphis, sweet tomato-based sauces were combined with molasses and applied to mutton for a new, unique taste. Kansas City combines regional styles, and you’ll find many restaurants in that area feature both pork and beef.

Each region has a unique distinct style, ingredients and flavors of barbecue, and all are delicious.

What is your favorite kind of BBQ?