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Pulled pork sandwich

Barbecue (often abbreviated as BBQ ) is a cooking method in which large pieces of meat are slowly cooked in a pit or special barbecue smokers at a moderate temperature in the hot exhaust air of a wood fire. The word can designate both the cooking method itself and the food prepared with it or an event at which this food is prepared. Barbecue is particularly widespread in the southern United States. Commonly prepared meats are pork (especially pork shoulders , spare ribs or whole pigs), beef (especially the breast), mutton and poultry. Larger pieces of meat, for example the shoulders, are loosened from the bone in small pieces after preparation and chopped up and served on a sandwich . The barbecue sauces differ greatly depending on the region, generally they range from "dry" preparations only with spices, to vinegar, mustard or tomato-based sauces , to sauces that mainly consist of ketchup and syrup.

Barbecue is not only an important element of southern cuisine , but, like any form of food culture, also has an important function in developing a sense of identity . It is an activity that is relatively cross-class in the south of the USA and therefore constitutes something in common, but also allows for pronounced regional and local differences.

In a broader sense, barbecue is often used as a synonym for grilling , but it differs considerably in terms of the cooking method. Much more closely related to the barbecue are jerk , a common food in the Caribbean, and the Mexican barbacoa .

Barbecue and grilling

In English and increasingly also in German-speaking countries , barbecue is used synonymously with the word grilling . The differences are clear: grilling takes place directly over the embers at 200 to 300 degrees Celsius. The comparatively small pieces of meat ( steak , chops , hamburgers, etc.) need a maximum of half an hour to cook. In the case of barbecues, on the other hand, the meat cooks through hot smoke, the temperature of which is around 100 to 130 degrees Celsius. The much larger pieces of meat (whole beef brisket, whole pork shoulder, whole pork) can take up to 24 hours before they are done.

In areas where barbecue in the narrower sense is widespread, a clear distinction is made between barbecue and grilling. In North Carolina , the word cookout is often used for grilling over hot coals , other US areas speak of grilling or broiling (where the heat when broiling comes from above or from the side). In British English, on the other hand, the verb to grill mostly describes heat from above, the word barbecue the German grilling, while barbecue in the American sense is largely unknown. While the dictionary gives Webster Barbecue as the only allowed spelling, the spelling of the dish in everyday life is almost as varied as the preparation; common synonyms are Barbique , barbeque , Bar-B-Que , Bar-B-Cue , Bar-BQ , BBQ , cue or just Q .



The word originally comes from the Mexican-Spanish word barbacoa , which is derived from the Taíno word buccan and used to refer to a wooden frame on which the Taino used to prepare meat over an open fire. The first written mention of barbacoa can be found in Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo's De la historia General y Natural de las Indias from 1526.

At the time of the Spanish conquest of America, the preparation method of slowly heating meat in smoke was widespread throughout the Caribbean and along the mainland coast as far as Brazil. Bernal Díaz del Castillo , who wrote an eyewitness account of the Spanish conquest in the years from 1519 to 1521 with the True Story of the Conquest of New Spain, knew barbacoa . Díaz del Castillo used the term to refer to meat that was fried in pits in what is now Mexico .

The close connection with the Caribbean also shows that the Spanish, French and English words for the privateers of the Caribbean - Bucanero , Boucanier and Buccaneer - all go back to the word origin buccan from the Taino. As a jerk , similar preparation methods have also been preserved in Central America and the Caribbean. In Mexico, whole goats are cooked over a fire at low temperatures, while in Cuba a whole pit-smoked pig is a traditional Christmas dinner.

The Spaniards were involved in the creation of today's barbecue by introducing pork, and therefore pork, to the New World. In the Oxford English Dictionary , the word “barbecue” first appeared in 1661, but it still refers to the wooden framework. A few decades later, the meal alone was meant when, for example, Benjamin Lynde 1733 or later George Washington and Thomas Jefferson mention barbecues in their notes.

Even if the first mentions of the barbecue in the area of ​​today's USA come from Virginia , no strong barbecue tradition could establish itself there in the long run. The Carolinas ( North Carolina and South Carolina ) are therefore considered to be the “cradle of barbecue”, where the greatest local differences in the type of preparation have developed. Like many southern dishes , barbecue is influenced by African American cuisine ( soul food ). Many of the cooks were slaves who came to the southern states via the Caribbean, where they learned about Caribbean cuisine and spices.

Social foundations

Barbecue as a social event evolved from slaughter festivals . Since barbecues always took place outside, i.e. in public, they quickly became the focus of neighborhood meetings, family celebrations and church celebrations. From around 1800, large barbecue festivals on the plantations of the southern states quickly began to become major social events. In the southern epic Gone with the Wind, for example, the plume of smoke and the smell of pork and mutton symbolize the hospitality of the Twelve Oaks plantation .

More deeply rooted in the people and often a gathering of people of many classes, barbecue was an event of a Christian community and especially at major political events. For many decades, every politician in the south held barbecues for both fundraising and victory celebrations. In 1923, when the governor of Oklahoma , Jack C. Walton , was inaugurated , there was a barbecue with 289 cattle , 70 pigs , 36 sheep , 2540 rabbits , 134 possums , 15 deer , 1427 chickens and one antelope .

First barbecues in cities were often prepared in backyards in specially dug holes or upturned bathtubs. One of the reasons for the strong roots of the barbecue in the south was the relative poverty there after the civil war . Pork was comparatively easy to obtain: in addition to domestic pigs, numerous feral pigs had lived in the forests since the 16th century. Many owners let their animals move half wild over the country and look for their own food. The low-temperature method of cooking over many hours has the advantage of making tough meat tender. Smoking was a method of creating flavor without resorting to expensive spices. Barbecue originated primarily as poor people's food, who only received the less desirable parts of the pig, and who used the method to also gently smoke ribs, shoulders or feet. In the southern states, this meant that barbecue was always closely related and rooted in the African American community.

Commercial providers are establishing themselves

Although barbecue never prevailed over hamburgers in the fast food market, numerous barbecue restaurants emerged in the 20th century

Commercial barbecue restaurants began to take off in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In Owensboro , Kentucky, Henry Green opened a commercial barbecue stand in 1890. The first all-barbecue restaurant in Lexington , North Carolina can be traced back to 1920, when Warner Stamey was probably the first to combine hushpuppy with barbecue. Leonard's, one of the first restaurants in Memphis, opened in 1922 and its technology was based heavily on the city's backyard barbecues.

As the automobile spread across the United States, barbecue stalls sprang up along the streets. Along with hot dogs, barbecue became the first successful meal for the automobile traveler, with barbecue stalls especially in the south and southwest. As early as 1921, JG Kirby founded the Pig Stands Company with the financial backing of RW Jackson , which in 1934 operated over 100 Pig Stands serving America's Motor Lunch . The locations away from closed settlements were well suited for the large pits and the heavy smoke that came with the preparation.

However, as other national fast food chains established themselves, the barbecue increasingly lost ground in the market. So it has never been possible to standardize barbecues. In contrast to, for example, hamburgers , regional differences are very pronounced when it comes to barbecues, and nobody succeeded in establishing an “all-American barbecue”. Individual attempts such as the Love's chain at the end of the 1970s with a Californian-Texan variant failed, as did the Luther's chain in the 1980s when trying to enforce a Texas barbecue nationally. In addition, the preparation is tedious and labor-intensive and is difficult to standardize. In the wake of a trend towards faster and faster eating and faster preparation, the barbecue lost market share again shortly after its boom. Pig Stands, for example, did not survive World War II as a chain.

National and international distribution

Restaurant in Chicago with a large selection of different variants on the smoker

The barbecue is particularly popular in the southern states and spread from there to the rest of the USA since the end of the 19th century by migrating African Americans from the southern states. The trails that emerge are similar to those of blues and jazz , as both the barbecue and music cultures were borne by similar populations. These then often brought the style of their homeland with them. For example, immigrants from Texas and Oklahoma came to California, while Kansas City brought together different styles from the deep south. Chicago and Detroit, in turn, took in immigrants from the Mississippi Delta and Memphis since 1900, which not only led to the emergence of the Chicago blues , but also to a lively barbecue culture in these cities. The north-east of the USA, on the other hand, was particularly attractive for immigrants from the coastal states of the Carolinas and Georgia, so these BBQ variants can be found there. As with blues and jazz, however, the barbecue has changed over the course of this hike.

While barbecue shops are all over the US, they are much more common in the southern states. For example, the Yellow Pages of Atlanta, which in the southern states were more of a barbecue hinterland, knew almost 30 restaurants specializing in barbecues, while the Yellow Pages in Boston had no barbecue specializing in restaurants and even Manhattan had only one restaurant that did also has barbecue on offer. Likewise, the prototypical signet of a laughing pig was only found in advertisements in Southern Memphis telephone directories, while Tennessee alone has over 100 restaurants specializing in barbecues, and Kansas City around 90. In strongholds like Memphis, there are even chains like Tops Bar-BQ, which already have mornings successfully selling barbecue. With the exception of Memphis and Kansas City, barbecue is much more prevalent in rural areas than in the cities. Atlanta, the unofficial capital of the southern states, has comparatively few joints and, for example, eliminated barbecues from the catering program at the 1996 Olympic Games in favor of hamburgers. Cities known across the US for their almost idolatrous admiration for barbecue are Lexington , North Carolina (approximately 19,000 residents), Goldsboro , North Carolina (39,000), Owensboro , Kentucky (55,000) and Lockhart , Texas (11,000).

Barbecue restaurants today

Restaurant Barbecue: Pulled Pork at Arthur Bryant's in Kansas City
Map of Payne's Bar-BQ - a well known restaurant in Memphis

Barbecue restaurants are mostly small businesses that rarely have branches. A certain barbecue myth considers individual styling, which refers to the previously low social origins of the barbecue, to be essential. Even in less affluent areas, despite the enforced improvements brought about by stricter hygiene laws, they still look comparatively shabby. The lifestyle magazine Southern Living , whose readership tends towards the middle and upper classes, went so far as to speak of a barbecue primitive architectural style that is a sure indicator of the best BBQ restaurants: “They are often barbecues -Pubs that you can recognize by the torn fly screens in the door, the scratched and dented furniture, cough syrup calendars, shelves with potato chips, sometimes a jukebox and always a bar that gives the whole thing the ambience of a beer serving, which is just beyond the border of an alcohol-free Counties. ".

Even the well-known Arthur Bryant’s in Kansas City is located in an area of ​​abandoned houses and lonely streets, in the restaurant cold neon tubes shine on seemingly ancient plastic tables, while the rendezvous in Memphis is characterized by a multitude of old pictures, posters, maps, street signs and loads of other decorative objects excels. It's noisy, busy, but friendly, the waiters often working there for decades. On the other hand, the barbecue stand at the Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Huntsville , Texas, which is very popular across the region and causes long queues in front of the church every Sunday, is rather unusual .

After barbecuing enjoyed a strong social upswing since the 1990s and it became possible to earn a comparatively large amount of money as the owner of a barbecue joint, the restaurant landscape has diversified. Still rarely appearing with branches, large, successful restaurants began to establish themselves in the barbecue centers, which are far less traditional and oriented more towards conventional gastronomy, but are still considered iconic restaurants. In recent years, successful restaurants have developed such as Corky's in Memphis, which appeal specifically to a middle-class clientele, expand into other places and even deliver barbecues across the US via FedEx , or Oklahoma Joe's in Kansas City, which also makes barbecue smokers which in turn dominate the festival scene. While various restaurants in Memphis are trying to profit from the fact that FedEx has its worldwide headquarters at Memphis Airport , none has been as successful as Corky's, which is now one of the most famous barbecue restaurants in the United States.


As a result of the popularity of the barbecue, an extensive competitive culture has developed, which has been booming in recent years. The season runs from the American Royal in Kansas City in the fall to the Memphis in May in the spring. It ranges from local competitions to championships across the US. Big barbecue championships hold elimination competitions across the southern states. Several 10,000 visitors often come to the final weekend. The winning teams often benefit from corporate sponsorship, which allows them to pay for the equipment and for participating in the competition.

The first festival of its kind was the World Championship Bar-B-Que Contest, which has been held since 1973 as part of the Houston Livestock Show in the parking lot of the Houston Astrodome . About 350 teams compete there and there are 150,000 visitors, most of whom are likely to want to go to the Livestock Show. The largest organizers of sole barbecue competitions are the Kansas City Barbecue Association , the Texas-based International Barbecue Cookers Association and, as an individual competition, the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest , the most famous part of Memphis in May . The Kansas City Barbecue Association alone had over 6,000 jurors in 2004, who oversaw 177 eliminations for the American Royal in Kansas City. In total, half a dozen major competitions take place somewhere in the US every weekend during the season. Owensboro has hosted the largest barbecue gathering in Kentucky since the 1980s with the annual International Bar-BQ Festival . The Lexington Barbecue Festival is the largest festival in the coastal states with up to 150,000 visitors.

Nowadays, the world's largest exclusive barbecue festival is held every year on the banks of the Mississippi River in Memphis. When World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest , part of the folk festival Memphis in May , several hundred teams participate. They compete in 15 to 20 categories for prizes with a total value of around 90,000 US dollars, most of which, of course, also come from sponsors. In addition, it is also a folk festival with, for example, Elvis doubles, politicians in the election campaign or - typical for the Bible Belt - missionary Christians. Also in Memphis, albeit significantly smaller, there has also been a kosher barbecue festival since 1988 in August , which combines the influence of a relatively large Jewish Orthodox community with the barbecue hype on the banks of the Mississippi.

BBQ trails in the USA

The pilgrimage trails for BBQ enthusiasts in the USA are of great tourist importance. On these BBQ trails you can get to know the different characteristics of the local barbeques. Some of the most famous barbecue trails include the Kansas Barbecue Trail, Texas Barbecue Trail, North and South Carolina BBQ Trail, Southern BBQ Trail, Memphis and Tennessee BBQ Trail, and Kentucky Barbecue Trail. The most famous barbecue restaurants can be visited on each of the individual trails.

Barbecue worldwide

In the past few decades, barbecue has also spread outside of the United States. The competitions in which different teams compete and which are now taking place in large parts of the world play a major role. There is a world association and national barbecue associations. Teams from Estonia, Norway and Belgium also qualified at the Memphis barbecue competition in May. While barbecuing is part of the everyday culture of almost the entire population in parts of the southern states, it is still considered unusual in Europe, is operated by individuals and often requires an explanation of the concept to potential eaters.

In the US itself, the effects of the competitions are ambivalent. Many award winners and winners later set up their own businesses and establish restaurants or at least sell sauce under their names. In doing so, they help to maintain the appreciation of the craft in the trade and to set a comparatively high standard. On the other hand, the competitive barbecue is relatively homogeneous and is based on proven recipes for success regardless of the local factor: the competitions generally raise the level of everyday barbecues, but also contribute to its homogenization and the loss of local identity.


The regional variants play an important role in traditional barbecues. The exact type of fuel and the preparation is more dependent on the particular barbecue maker, while with sauce, the type of meat and which parts of an animal are preferred, there are clear regional preferences. Although the boundaries are becoming more and more blurred due to increasing migration and an increasingly mobile lifestyle, barbecue is often an important element of local everyday culture and thus still clearly regionally differentiated. Some families have closely guarded family recipes. The classic barbecue areas include the Deep South , while Virginia and Florida are not part of the traditional barbecue area. Whether Texas and Kentucky, which do not primarily prepare pork, belong to the barbecue belt is controversial. Classic immigrant cities in the northern states for African Americans from the south such as Chicago or New York City have also developed a strong barbecue culture, which, however, is more heterogeneous than the local kitchens of the south.


"Aquarium" -style smoker in a Chicago restaurant
Firebox with oak wood

The cook and his helpers dig a pit for the classic barbecue. In it, hardwood is then stacked on an insulating layer of stone. Commonly used types of wood are hickory , mesquite , oak or sassafras . The wood is burned until it just glows. The states of the southeast prefer hickory or oak, while Texas prefer mesquite.

The cook then lets the meat into the pit and ensures that it is smoked at temperatures just above the boiling point of water and 120 degrees Celsius. Inside the flesh, the important reactions take place at 63 to 75 degrees. Then the tough, hard-to-eat collagen turns into soft gelatin , which gives the meat its tenderness. However, depending on the size of the meat, this transformation takes several hours and a type of meat that does not dry out in this period of time. A pink layer of flesh, the so-called "smoke ring", forms directly under the skin. In it, nitrogen dioxide from the smoke combines with the liquid in the meat to form nitrous acid . This is absorbed into the meat and turns the myoglobin in the muscle pink. If the acid has several hours, the smoke ring can become over an inch thick.

Using a barbecue smoker is less time consuming . In the most common variant, it contains two chambers: a smaller combustion chamber, in which wood or charcoal burns, and a larger smoke chamber. The smoke from the combustion chamber is directed through the smokehouse, where it cooks the meat. Do-it-yourself smokers made from barrels are popular and cheaper than the commercially available models with a large, lockable smokehouse. Large smokers, often attached directly to trailers and used in barbecue competitions, for example, can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Smaller and usually cheaper than the so-called horizontal smokers with two chambers are upright smokers in which fuel and meat are one above the other in the same chamber. However, they are further apart than on a grill. The smoker also forms a closed space here and, above all, they are separated from each other by a layer of water.

Commercial providers throughout the US now mainly work with gas-powered ovens in which only a small proportion of wood chips are supposed to provide aroma. Here the temperature can be controlled with far less effort, the restaurant operator saves working time and gains reliability in the result. The gas grills also work at low temperatures, so the preparation of a barbecue in all variants takes several hours and often a whole day. Briquettes, on the other hand, are only suitable to a limited extent because, depending on the type, they often contain additives that only burn completely at high temperatures, but can get into the meat at barbecue temperatures.

In both the English and German-speaking countries, numerous grills are offered as barbecue equipment, although they cannot be used to make a barbecue in the narrower sense. They usually lack an airtight seal.


Pork shoulders, beef breasts and spare ribs

It is important for barbecue meat that it does not lose too much fat and water and that it does not become dry before the collagen has completely turned into gelatin. While pieces of meat how steaks would, hamburger or chicken fillets well suited for roasting and grilling, dry, Pitmaster prefer large pieces that have a lot of connective tissue and fat and belong to the working muscles of the animals at the barbecue, such as pork shoulder , pork for the pulled pork and beef brisket for Beef brisket .

The southeast generally prefers pork; beef is the main ingredient in Texas. In states where both traditions meet (Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, and Arkansas), both variants occur. West Kentucky is an exception, where once large flocks of sheep contributed to the dominance of mutton barbecues. In areas that saw strong African American immigration in the late 19th and 20th centuries (Kansas City, Chicago, New York and California), the traditions of the states of origin established themselves. However, the chefs here mostly prefer smaller pieces of meat that can be prepared more quickly, such as spare ribs .

Pork in the heartland

Besides chicken, pork is the classic meat of southern cuisine. Domestic pigs brought the first Spanish expeditions to the area in the 16th century, especially Hernando de Soto's expedition 1539–1542. These pigs later went wild. These so-called razorbacks spread throughout the south and parts of the Midwest and on the Atlantic coast. The actual wild boar did not follow until the end of the 19th century when it was imported by hunters. It hardly plays a role in the US kitchen. The pigs spread quickly; In times of economic prosperity before the civil war, the southern state farmers raised an average of two pigs per inhabitant, because pork was an indispensable part of the meal. In many households, lard replaced butter, which was widespread elsewhere, in almost all applications until the Second World War.

For these reasons, pork is also preferred for barbecues. The rules for the barbecue championship at the Memphis-in-May Festival summarize it all: “We define barbecue as pork, (fresh and not smoked) cooked on a wood or charcoal fire, rubbed or not like the cook does thinks right, with non-toxic substances, as well as sauces that the cook considers necessary. "

Which part of the pork is preferred differs again: In eastern North Carolina as well as in western Tennessee, all parts of the pork are traditionally smoked and chopped up (chopped pork) , while the west of the state prefers shoulders. After smoking, individual fibers are usually pulled from the now very tender meat with a fork and served as pulled pork (pulled pork), sometimes cut as sliced . Memphis also prefers the shoulder - originally a cheap part of the pig, it also turned out to be barbecue-friendly because shoulder bones and skin protect the meat. The shoulder meat is also served here as pulled pork in strips on a sandwich. Are popular also in Memphis Spareribs than all ribs . In Kansas City, on the other hand, the local specialty consists of burnt ends , the ends of pork or beef brisket, which are often cooked longer than the rest of the breast and are also cut into small pieces and served on sandwiches.

The pig is not just the main ingredient. Its use even nourishes local or regional pride and its enjoyment serves to create identity. Max Brantley, editor-in-chief of the weekly Arkansas Times and established barbecue writer, concludes in one of his numerous columns that “The only real barbecue, or barbecue, is made of pork. To deny that would justify what is happening in Texas, and the only ones who know less about the subject than Yankees are Texans. ”The pig also plays an important role in the iconography of barbecue: be it as a restaurant sign, to decorate Smokers or as a motif at barbecue festivals.

Beef in Texas and mutton in Kentucky

Beef brisket and sausage from Texas

While pork is generally preferred, residents of western Kentucky prepare mutton from large flocks of sheep there. Although mutton is rarely on the menu in the United States, it is considered a regional specialty that is used in numerous dishes. Unlike the barbecue, which uses almost exclusively mutton, Kentucky residents also use lamb on other occasions. Pork, beef and poultry are now also on the menus of the local barbecue restaurants. But this is mainly a concession to tourists and newcomers.

Texans prefer beef, while Mexicans integrated goats into the kitchen. German and Czech immigrants brought significant influences from their cooking culture with them, including the sausages that exist in Texas. In strongholds such as the city of Lockhart, for example, despite their 11,000 inhabitants home to various award-winning barbecue restaurants, the two most famous restaurants belong to two warring parts of the Schmidt family, clearly recognizable as originally of German descent. In East Texas and West Arkansas, classic southern and Texas styles blend together.


Similar to the meat, there is also a dispute about the right barbecue sauce. Every cook has his own secret recipe, for many experts like Max Brantley “the sauce turns the barbecue into a barbecue”, and Katherine Zobel observes further religious rhetoric in the magazine Southern Exposure : “Just like religious principles, barbecue sauces are on the one hand essential, for but at the same time advertised as not recognizable. "

In general, there is the option of applying a so-called dry rub , a dry salt-cayenne-herb mixture before smoking, and a mop , a sauce based on water, wine, fruit juice or beer, for example , during smoking , which keeps the meat juicy or, just before the end, a sauce based on ketchup or with larger amounts of sugar that would otherwise caramelize .

Dry rub on a spare rib
Sloppy, that is, sandwiches made with a lot of sauce

The Carolinas have the greatest variety of sauces. There one used in the West of the two countries in general ketchup sauces, mustard-based sauces in the central South Carolina to Columbia and vinegar sauce without tomatoes, but with cayenne pepper in the eastern Carolinas. In general, it can be stated that in areas that were previously populated, vinegar sauces predominate, especially in the coastal regions of the Carolinas; to a lesser extent, the area also extends to Virginia and Georgia . While the method of using vinegar (and originally butter) to protect meat from drying out came from British cuisine , it is likely that African-American slaves from the Caribbean contributed to the fondness for hot spices. In the commercial sector, families of Scottish origin such as the Browns, McKenzies, Scotts or McCabes have traditionally been advocates of this tradition.

The mustard in the sauce, which is mostly limited to South Carolina and smaller appendages in Georgia and Alabama, seems to go back to a wave of German immigrants to the area in the 18th century. Most of the Germans who immigrated between 1730 and 1750 first settled at the transition from the hills of the interior to the coastal plain and brought mustard with them as a common flavoring. Even after 250 years, many families who sell mustard-based barbecue sauce or run such restaurants still have German origins, such as the Bessingers, Shealys, Hites, Sweatmans, Sikess, Prices, Levers, Meyers, Kisers and Zeiglers.

Since ketchup has been readily available as a commodity from 1900, it has played an important role as an ingredient in barbecue sauces. Especially in North Carolina in the Lexington area , the Pitmasters added ketchup to their vinegar and pepper sauce to add some sweetness and other spices to the food.

In Alabama , sauces are predominantly light and made from mayonnaise , in some areas also orange in a tomato and mustard combination, while in Kentucky they are black based on Worcestershire sauce . While influences from Memphis and Arkansas can be seen in East Texas, Texans generally do not attach great importance to the sauce. In the so-called “barbecue belt” around Austin there is generally only salt and cayenne pepper. Arkansas has a certain preference for "pure" barbecue, without any sauce.

Memphis , Tennessee, is split between supporters of "wet" tomato sauce with syrup and supporters of "dry rub" only with spices and herbs. While the syrup came into the city in large quantities through Memphis' position as a port, the dry method goes back to the restaurant owner Charlie Vergos of the still existing Rendezvous and the early 1960s, when he very successfully produced spare ribs in a Greek-influenced variant with herbs but prepared without vinegar or tomatoes.

The most widespread barbecue sauce - almost always the only known and available outside of the barbecue heartland - is also the youngest. It was not created until the Second World War and contains ketchup as a base, which is then often enriched with syrup or honey and various spices and possibly even boiled down. It is the sweetest barbecue sauce available, which may explain its worldwide success. The first US-wide barbecue sauce available in grocery stores was marketed by Heinz ketchup since 1948 . It is closely related to the masterpiece sauce that is typical of the Kansas City barbecue. Heavy ketchup sauce is the best known, but also the most standardized of all barbecue sauces, due to its widespread use as a barbecue sauce commercially available in grocery stores. Sauces available in grocery stores almost always have a smoke flavor .

Side dishes

Potato salad and baked beans for the sandwich

While poultry is not a side dish in the strict sense of the word on the grill, it is often also prepared and placed in the heat in the last phase of the actual barbecue process. It actually never plays a major role in a barbecue, but can be added to almost all variants. An important traditional side dish in the narrower sense is a stew containing meat . On the Atlantic coast from Virginia to Georgia, Brunswick Stew predominates, Kentucky prefers Burgoo , a kind of spicy stew, just like the barbecue itself but often made with lamb or mutton. More inland parts of South Carolina and Georgia serve pork and rice-based hash.

In the Carolinas, hushpuppies , small fried balls of cornmeal, are essential. North Carolina also regularly serves white potatoes, while South Carolina also serves rice alone. Alabama, on the other hand, serves white bread, while Arkansas serves tamales . Although Coleslaw is generally used as a side dish, here too there is a divergence in preferences between vinegar-heavy (North Carolina) and more mayonnaise-heavy (Memphis). It can - especially in Tennessee - be served on a sandwich or - in other areas - as a side dish.

Although Coleslaw probably goes back to German immigrants to the Carolinas and their coleslaw , another German-influenced side dish was only able to spread regionally: In Texas, with its strong German influence in the barbecue tradition, people prefer potato salad next to or instead of Coleslaw and like in most other states also have beer. The jalapeños , tortillas and salsas , which are also served in Texas and Oklahoma, are more likely to be traced back to Mexican influences. In the south, near the Mexican border, pinto beans often accompany the dish, in the east of the state it is more like baked beans .

Cultural meaning

Classic BBQ smoker. The flap is closed during preparation.

Especially within the southern states, the appreciation of the barbecue and the identification with the dish contribute to a strong regional identity. Along with fried chicken and cornbread , it is considered part of the holy trinity of southern cuisine. In the barbecue heartland, which closely overlaps the Bible Belt , “legendary favorite barbecue spots are revered like religious shrines.” The quasi-religious commitment to a particular type of barbecue is an essential part of the barbecue discourse.

Barbecue as a symbol of the southern states

Cooking spare ribs in a barrel smoker at a traditional barbeque takeaway in the United States.

The identification of the southern states with barbecue goes so far that the sociologist John Shelton Reed suggested at least half seriously that the Confederate flag should be replaced by a flag with a dancing pig and knife and fork. It would show the solidarity of all people in the southern states: “You want to talk about heritage, not about hatred. Barbecue represents a legacy that we all share and of which we can be proud. Barbecue symbolizes community and contributes to it. Not to mention its many charitable manifestations, such as collecting donations for volunteer fire brigades . ”Business people and workers, farmers, lawyers, cowboys and hippies, African American and whites, Protestants and Catholics and occasionally even Jews meet in the high-profile restaurants. In any case, in Reed's opinion, you ca n't understand the southern states if you don't understand barbecue.

Regional identity

Homemade barbecue smoker from Texas.

On the other hand, the appreciation of the barbecue also takes into account the close ties to the community and the state: “It is absolutely undisputed that barbecues differ. Drive a hundred miles and the barbecue will change. Like Byzantine icon painters , barbecue cooks differ in technique and style, but they work so traditionally that these traditions largely determine what they are supposed to make. ”It is this local roots, combined with overarching regional pride, that makes Reed the only thing that makes barbecue American equivalent to European cheese - or wine culture . Depending on the region, certain groups may be associated with barbecues in a special way: in Kentucky, for example, barbecues are particularly a matter for the Roman Catholic communities . They collect much of their donations at large barbecues, which are considered important social events. At such a festival at the diocesan level, all parishes provide helpers who each take care of a part of the matter, such as Burgoo, smoking, drinks, etc., so that 300 to 400 helpers come together in each diocese. In fact, all of Kentucky's major BBQ restaurants are owned by Catholic families.


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  14. a b c d e f g h i j k David Plotz: An American Barbecue Pilgrimage , in: Slate , May 23, 2005.
  15. ^ Edith Mayo: American Material Culture , Popular Press, 1984, ISBN 0-87972-304-1 , p. 209.
  16. See Auchmotey, pp. 23–24; Laura Dove: BBQ - A Southern Cultural Icon .
  17. "These are often barbecue eateries identified by torn screen doors, scratched and dented furniture, cough syrup calendars, potato chip racks sometimes a jukebox, and always a counter, producing an ambience similar to a county-line beer joint." Quoted from Edith Mayo: American Material Culture , Popular Press, 1984, ISBN 0-87972-304-1 , p. 213.
  18. Elie, Stewart, p. 18.
  19. a b c d Elis, Stewart, pp. 115-131.
  20. Michael Finger: Memphis: The World Championship of BBQ or a Pretender? , in: Memphis Flyer, May 12, 2007.
  21. World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest. , accessed October 1, 2013 .
  22. Ted Roberts: A Grill a Minute: Memphis Jews on 'Que. , August 11, 2006, accessed October 6, 2013 .
  23. PDF: Official South Carolina BBQ Trail Map. Retrieved July 29, 2020 .
  24. Barbecue - The nicest thing in the world. Retrieved July 29, 2020 .
  25. ^ A b Stephen A. Smith: Myth, Media, and the Southern Mind , University of Arkansas Press, 1986, ISBN 0-938626-41-8 , pp. 107-108.
  26. ^ H. McGee: On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen , Scribner, New York 2004, ISBN 0-684-80001-2 , p. 148.
  27. a b c d e Stan Smith: A Rhetoric of Barbecue - A Southern Rite and Ritual , in: Elie 2005, pp. 61–66.
  28. Bethany Ewald Bultman: An Ode to the Pig , in: Elie 2005, pp. 23-29.
  29. ^ Elie, Stewart, p. 3.
  30. a b Elis, Stewart, pp. 183-185.
  31. a b c d Lake E. High Jr .: A Very Brief History of the Four Types of Barbeque Found In the USA., archived from the original on November 2, 2013 ; accessed on October 1, 2013 (English).
  32. Kentucky BBQ . In: Southern Foodways Alliance . ( [accessed July 7, 2018]).
  33. Food and Agricultural Products Research and Technology Center at Oklahoma State University: Food Technology Fact Sheet 137: A Market Evaluation of Barbecue Sauces as pdf
  34. Auchmotey, p. 25.
  35. ^ Derrick Riches: German Barbecue
  36. “You want to talk about heritage, not hate. That represents a heritage we all share and can take pride in. Barbecue both symbolizes and contributes to community. And it's without even mentioning its noncommercial manifestations - for instance, in matters like fund-raising for volunteer fire departments. " Quoted from: John Shelton Reed: Barbecue Sociology - The Meat of the Matter , in: Elie 2005, pp. 78-87.
  37. Marcie Cohen Ferris offers a treatise on how the large Jewish community in Memphis, Tennessee, dealt with the city's tradition as the world capital of pig barbecue : We Didn't Know from Fatback - A Southern Jewish Perspective on Barbecue , in: Elie 2005, p 97-103.
  38. “There's no denying that barbecue can be divisive. Drive a hundred miles and the barbecue does change… Like Byzantine icon painters, barbecue cooks differ in technique and in skill, but they are working in traditions that pretty much tell them what to produce. "
  39. Southern Foodways Alliance: A Southern Food Primer , p. 9 as pdf ( Memento from May 17, 2008 in the Internet Archive )


  • Jim Auchmutey: Barbecue . In: The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture . Volume 7: Foodways . The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill 2007, ISBN 978-0-8078-3146-5 , pp. 22-26.
  • Lolis Eric Elie (Ed.): Cornbread Nation 2 - The United States of Barbecue . University of North Carolina Press, 2005, ISBN 0-8078-5556-1 .
  • Lolis Eric Elie, Frank Stewart: Smokestack Lightning: Adventures in the Heart of Barbecue Country . Ten Speed ​​Press, 2005, ISBN 1-58008-660-8 .

Web links

Commons : Barbecue  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Barbecue  - Explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
This version was added to the list of articles worth reading on June 12, 2008 .