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American Barbeque - A Brief History

Apr 4, 2008
Cooking food over an open flame is older than written history. One of the first uses of fire was for cooking and humans - mostly men - have argued over the right technique for scorching animal meat over an open flame since.

The modern era of grilling and barbequing has a much shorter history than all of human civilization. Indeed, while most cooking has moved inside to the kitchen, a dedicated few remain willing to brave a sunny Sunday afternoon in order to put meat on their family's paper plates. Barbequing is easily the latest innovation in this tradition.

Two distinct types of barbequing developed in the United States - pork and beef. Not surprisingly the two types developed in areas where their respective meats were at hand. Pork barbeque rose out of the Southern states while beef barbeque was more popular in Texas. In both cases large chunks of meat, if not the whole animal, were placed over a low burning heat source. While you will still find fanatical devotes of both styles all types of barbeque are available in most areas these days.

Unlike grilling meat which is usually done by quickly cooking over direct heat, barbequing involves long periods and indirect heat. It is not unusual for a good barbeque recipe to require hours of cooking. Normally this would dry the meat out and leave it inedible. This is where barbeque sauce comes in.

All barbeque is generously and often coated with tangy barbeque sauce. The sauces used vary from region to region and even from cook to cook. Sometimes the sauce is sweet, sometimes spice but it is almost always tangy. The "dry" or "wet" distinction of barbeque is not as bright a line as one might suspect. A wet barbeque is one where a generous coat of sauce is applied at the end of the cooking time; this step is skipped for a dry barbeque.

The heat source is also important. While some professional and competitive barbequing is done today with gas, most purists prefer to use wood or charcoal or both. While gas can provide steady and predictable temperatures, wood and charcoal heat is more traditional and greatly adds to the quality of flavor of the barbeque. The choice of material is important because whatever is burned to produce the heat will impart a unique quality to the barbeque.

The art and skill of barbequing has come a long way. Enclosed cookers, precise thermometers and a wide variety of sauces makes barbequing today much different than it was in the beginning. But little has changed, too: a heat source, a large chunk of meat and lots of sauce that is, more often than not, based on a secret recipe.
About the Author
To learn more about barbequing and grilling check out http://bbq_and_grill.diamondrocket.com . There you can find barbeque recipes, information about grills and bbq cookers , and barbeque sauce.
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