Some might say you're not a proper Southerner if you haven't partaken in barbecue at some point in your life. You'll see many a sign in the South that reads "the best barbecue in town." Let's take a look at this delicious tradition.
Nobody's exactly sure where the term "barbecue" came from, but it's generally accepted that it's derived from the West Indies word "barbacoa" -- meaning to slowly cook something over hot coals. For the most part, barbecue is pork. Historically, pigs were plentiful in the South, and they were also relatively easy to raise and maintain. Also, people ate just about the entire pig. Anything that couldn't be eaten immediately was cured for later, and even things like ears and feet were turned into local delicacies. The pig slaughter became a community event of sorts, and that's why we all gather together to share barbecue today.
Southern barbecue flavors vary by region, and so does the prep method. People will argue until they're blue in the face over what constitutes "real barbecue," so we're not even going to touch that. However, here's a partial list of what to expect if you sample barbecue in what's known in the South as "the Barbecue Belt": In North Carolina, you'll find chopped or sliced meat with a vinegar sauce. In South Carolina and Georgia, you'll find a mustard-based sauce. Tennessee is known for a tomato sauce. In Arkansas, you'll find a mixture of everything, depending on which other state is nearest [source: Dove].
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