What comes to mind when you think about a BBQ. Well for me, it is the greatest sport there is, trying to get to the biggest juiciest hamburger on the platter before Uncle Ralph, that’s me by the way, gets to it first. I am 6’2″ and 230 lbs. of pure eating fury. Not that I need it, but we’ll leave the discussion about body mass index for another time. But I have learned to compromise. I add microgreens to the food and that helps me to lose weight. I bet you didn’t know that one ounce of broccoli microgreens has the equivalent amount of nutrients as 20 ounces of broccoli florets. Wow, I can save the other 19 oz. for more burgers. I do love broccoli, but even I would be hard pressed to eat 20 oz. of broccoli at one sitting.
No matter how you spell it Barbecue, Barbeque, Barbacoa (Spanish), or simply just BBQ, barbecue has a long and varied history. It covers many different styles and types of food, but they all have one thing in common. They are all foods cooked over a fire, whether it be smoking, roasting or grilling.
Now we can probably argue that BBQ has been around since cavemen first learned to cook with fire, but the BBQ we all know and love probably is much newer to the world. The word itself comes from a Spanish word Barbacoa. The Oxford English Dictionary traces Barbacoa to Haiti where it translates to “framework of sticks set upon posts”.
Even though BBQs were seen in colonial times with the first mention of a BBQ in 1672 and George Washington attending a BBQ in 1769, arguably, the South is the center of BBQ in the US. Southerners were eating five times as much pork as they were beef, prior to the Civil War. They were catching cooking wild hogs and the effort involved sparked a time of celebration in the neighborhood. This morphed into the Traditional Southern Barbecue.
A Southern Barbecue, a wood engraving from a sketch by Horace Bradley, published in Harper’s Weekly, July 1887
The types of meat used in BBQ is somewhat regional in that many southern states like pork, such as Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee. A popular item in North Carolina is “Pulled Pork”, while Kansas City style is characterized by a wide variety in meat, including beef, pork, and lamb; and there is always a strong emphasis on some signature ingredient, the sauce and the French fries. Texas, on the other hand is so large that their BBQ style is divided by location. East Texas, southern style. Central Texas boasts a style originated by the immigrant butchers in the area. Then there is West Texas “Cowboy style” using mutton, goat, and beef over Mesquite.
No matter where you are or what style you prefer, you can always add microgreens to the food that you prepare. I must admit that I am a steak and potatoes man, but I also like a big juicy burger on the side, loaded with all the good stuff like tomatoes, pickles, lettuce, covered with ketchup and mustard. But I add a little extra to my burger, a generous helping of microgreens. I use whatever I have on hand at the moment. Just today I had a burger on a poppyseed roll with sunflower and mixed radish microgreens.
I usually like to add a salad, the “The year of the Rabbit, proud and arrogant” in me, I guess.
No matter how you celebrate this favorite American pastime and tradition, it plays a large role in our cuisine for its rich and zesty flavor. Barbecues will always bring people together and serve as a bonding experience, especially at holidays such as the Fourth of July. It takes us back to our roots and provides a background for a cooking experience that lets us get away from the rigors of everyday life and brings us closer to nature.
“Barbecue dominated the market from the ’30s to ’50s, and was really the first fast food. Even the original McDonald’s started out serving barbecue.”
Author and Southern Living BBQ editor Robert Moss
Bon Appetite and Happy Growing!