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To Barbeque or is it Barbecue?

Jun 24, 2019

Image: FIre up the barbie! - clipartpanda.com

This is the time of year when those in the Northern Hemisphere like to pull out that cooking device that uses flame to make outdoor meals.  Where did this cooking method originate and how did it get it's name?

According to Wikipedia, Most etymologists (word origin specialists) believe that barbecue derives from the word barabicu found in the language of the Taíno people of the Caribbean and the Timucua of Florida, and entered European languages in the form barbacoa. The word translates as "sacred fire pit". The word describes a grill for cooking meat, consisting of a wooden platform resting on sticks.

Traditional barbacoa involves digging a hole in the ground and placing some meat (usually a whole goat) with a pot underneath it, so that the juices can make a hearty broth. It is then covered with maguey leaves and coal and set alight. The cooking process takes a few hours. Olaudah Equiano, an African abolitionist, described this method of roasting alligators among the Mosquito People (Miskito people) on his journeys to Cabo Gracias a Dios in his narrative, The Interesting Narrative of the Life of Olaudah Equiano.

It has been suggested that both the word and cooking technique migrated out of the Caribbean and into other languages and cultures, with the word (barbacoa) moving from Caribbean dialects into Spanish, then Portuguese, French, and English. The Oxford English Dictionary cites the first recorded use of the word in the English language as a verb in 1661, in Edmund Hickeringill's Jamaca Viewed: "Some are slain, And their flesh forthwith Barbacu'd and eat." It also appears as a verb in the published writings of John Lederer, following his travels in the American southeast in 1672. The first known use of the word as a noun was in 1697 by the British buccaneer William Dampier. In his New Voyage Round the World, Dampier writes: And lay there all night, upon our Borbecu's, or frames of Sticks, raised about 3-foot (0.91 m) from the Ground.
Samuel Johnson's 1756 dictionary gave the following definitions:
•    "To Barbecue – a term for dressing a whole hog" (attestation to Pope)
•    "Barbecue – a hog dressed whole"
While the standard modern English spelling of the word is barbecue, local variations like barbeque and truncations such as bar-b-q or bbq may also be found. The spelling barbeque is given in Merriam-Webster and the Oxford English Dictionary as a variant.

In the southeastern United States, the word barbecue is used predominantly as a noun referring to roast pork, while in the southwestern states cuts of beef are often cooked
So break out the checkered table cloths, the citronella candles and the grill and invite your friends and family to join you and smoke up the back yard with fun!.

 


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