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Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America

Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America

By Andrew F. Smith

Published 2004

  • About
Barbecue is a method of slow-cooking meat over coals, also known as barbeque, bar-b-q, BBQ, or simply ‘cue. Although backyard grilling in general is called barbecuing by most English-speaking peoples, only the traditional American slow-cook barbecue first popularized in the American South will be discussed.

Most authorities agree that both the word “barbecue” and the cooking technique derive from the Taino and Carib peoples of the Caribbean and South America. The Spanish conquistadores reported natives of Hispaniola roasting, drying, and smoking meats on a wooden framework over a bed of coals, called a barbricot, which the Spaniards pronounced barbacoa. The derivation from the French barbe à queue, literally “from beard to tail,” has been discounted.