The barbecue has been a universal language across continents for centuries; however some seasoned barbecue lovers will argue that roasting meat over a fire is not a barbecue. A real barbecue is using the innards of a conventional oven, namely the gill, to add those smoky stripes to meat giving a distinctive flavor and an unsurpassed aroma.
It’s no surprise that the Americans believe they invented the barbecue. Even now we try to recreate their BBQ burgers, and flame grilled steaks, and in states all across the country they hold weekend long BBQ competitions were they marinade their meat for twenty four hours, staying awake and tending to it as if a newborn baby, basting it with juices every fifteen minutes, before slow roasting it on a grill over a flame. This exhausting meat sleep deprived fest is conducted with one aim, to be crowned Americas BBQ king (or Queen).
Although the Americans would strongly argue that the BBQ originated from their homeland, the area of origin is still in debate, however one thing for certain, meat has always been a staple of any barbecue and although vegetables can be flame grilled too, it’s the meat that makes it a true grilling experience.
Not to mention the social status. An event with smoky food will bring whole communities together, and the food is the glue that cements the bond. Unless you undercook the meat, the food from al fresco cooking is always delicious when eaten hot, and very few people would disagree.
It brings family and friends together and also takes men back to a Cave man era where they can afford to let their masculinity shine and provide good food cooked simply whilst receiving the praise they deserve. They don’t have to worry about the splash back on the kitchen work surface, and the addition of paper plates and plastic knives and forks ensures there’s no arguing about the washing up.
The Caribbean’s, over centuries ago, used the method of the two step barbecue for preserving meat. They would leave meat in the sun to prolong its life and tenderize it, like slow cooking without the oven. However it was the attraction of bugs that eventually led them to inadvertently invent the Barbecue we know today.
After cooking the meat in the sun, they would set up a smoker to kill all bugs, maggots and larvae, leaving the meat tender, mouthwatering and adding a unique smoky flavor that was bound to make the Spanish explorers salivate as they turned up to witness these methods.
Now we take it for granted. This process used to take weeks or months, however by combining the two methods by adding our own heat we have the ancient Caribbean flavours almost instantly, and combined with food, drink, a fire and storytelling in the winter, we have held onto a tradition that will see future generations come together as one for centuries to come. The Barbecue may have been around since the dawn of time, but this is one gadget that will never go out of fashion.