NATIONAL BARBECUE DAY | May 16
Each year on May 16 we celebrate National Barbecue Day in the United States. Whether you grill at home or grab some takeout, you will find Americans across the country enjoying an assortment of mouthwatering barbeque (BBQ) flavors and sauces.
In the world of barbecue, grillers decide how to cook their barbeque. Whether they choose charcoal, wood charcoal, wood, gas or slow cooking, they consider themselves the culinary expert of barbeque. Traditionally, Americans have four types of BBQ regions:
- Kansas City – A variety of beef and pork cuts are slow cooked with a tomato and molasses-based sauce.
- Carolina – Slow-roasted pork is cooked with a sauce with a vinegar and ketchup base combination.
- Memphis – Dry rub pork is cooked low and slow absorbing the smokey, BBQ flavors.
- Texas – Beef is slow-cooked in smoker grills and topped a with smoky, dry rub.
Everyone has their own homemade BBQ recipe. However, many recipes include the same ingredients. Ketchup, mustard and Worcestershire, brown sugar, soy and molasses are common ingredients in BBQ sauce. A combination onion, smoked paprika, ground cumin, crushed red pepper and turmeric are often found in the best dry rub recipes. Perfecting your own sauce or rub by experimenting
When it comes to completing a delicious BBQ, the sides you serve are just as important. Potatoes and baked beans with bacon are considered staples of barbecue flavors. Ideally, a good coleslaw will pair well with a shredded bbq pork and make the perfect sandwich. However, a creamy macaroni and cheese dish is a perfect combination with dry or wet BBQ. Corn on the cob is another favorite side, many grilling it directly with husk on then removing it before eating. Obviously, no barbeque meal would be complete if you didn’t add a slice of watermelon for a light, cook dessert after a big meal.
WAYS TO JOIN IN THE CELEBRATION
- Visit your favorite bbq restaurant.
- Grill your own BBQ.
- Experiment with your own BBQ sauce or rub.
- Check out these 7 Hot BBQ Tips.
- Share your BBQ adventures using #NationalBBQDay and #NationalBarbecueDay on social media.
NATIONAL BARBECUE DAY HISTORY
Traditional barbeque methods involved digging a hole, placing meat over a pot and covering the hole with leaves. The meat was slow-cooked with the pot catching the juice from the meat, later to be used as a broth.
Some historians suggest barbeque can be found with early Caribbean tribes. However, the first historical notation of barbeque can be traced back to the island of Hispaniola. There is proof Christopher Columbus observed indigenous tribes of Hispaniola cooking meat above an open flame. Years later, Spanish explorers would name the process barbacoa, or barbeque, after their encounters with the tribes.
In 1540, explorer Hernando De Soto document the Chickasaw tribe cooking a feast of pork over the barbacoa. At the time, the Chickasaw were spread throughout the southeastern portion of the U.S. It is uncertain whether the Chickasaw taught the this method of cooking to settlers or if settlers began mimicking the process. However, at some point settlers began using the method of cooking meat over open flame. Thus, eventually establishing barbeque as the traditional practice of grilling we know today.
Years later, early European settlers referenced barbeque as savage preparation of food. Many accused Native tribes of practicing cannibalism. Many settlers referred to Native tribes as barbaric because of they way they lived, hunted and survived. However, history now tells us Native tribes were highly advanced in day-to-day operations, including with preparation and preservation of food.
Today, American barbeque origins point to North Carolina as the oldest place barbeque is found. References to
Barbecue can now be found in places across the country, but its “American” origins are in North Carolina. As barbecue spread across the country it changed in many ways. However, North Carolina BBQ has held true to its definition for generations. References to “a whole Hog barbecu’d” date back to the 1700s, using pork as the original meat of choice because it was plenty and inexpensive. After the meat was cooked, it was often hung in a smokehouse for preservation for use in the coming days or weeks.