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].
For more about food and tradition, check out the links below.
- "5 Popular Wedding Cake Traditions." WeddingChannel.com. 2011.http://weddings.weddingchannel.com/wedding-planning-ideas/wedding-cake/articles/glossary-traditions.aspx
- "About Us - History of Karo." Karo.com. 2011. http://karosyrup.com/about_us.html
- Bell, Daniel. "Black-eyed peas, collard greens are New Year's tradition." RN-T.com. January 2011.http://www.romenews-tribune.com/view/full_story/10840208/article-Black-eyed-peas--collard-greens-are-New-Year%E2%80%99s-tradition
- "Biographies." KnowSouthernHistory.net. Aug. 11, 2011. http://www.knowsouthernhistory.net/Biographies/
- Bryan, Wright. "Pimento Cheese: It's a Southern Thing." NPR. Jan. 17, 2007. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6877304
- Dove, Laura. "The History of Barbecue in the South." BBQ: A Southern Cultural Icon. 2011.http://xroads.virginia.edu/~ma95/dove/history.html
- Dupree, Nathalie. "Nathalie Dupree's Shrimp and Grits Cookbook." Wyrick and Company. 2006. http://books.google.com/books?id=uoHbzREgQdQC&pg=PA25&dq=shrimp+and+grits+history&hl=en&ei=t5hCTojQNtGugQfqnZ3OCQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CCoQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=shrimp%20and%20grits%20history&f=false
- "Easter Sunday Lunch Menus." Southern Living. 2011. http://www.southernliving.com/food/holidays-occasions/easter-menus-00400000042194/page14.html
- Elliott, Amy. "Bridesmaids' Tea: The Basics." TheKnot.com. 2011.http://wedding.theknot.com/wedding-planning/rehearsal-dinner/articles/bridesmaids-tea-basics.aspx
- "History of Pecan Pie." Pie. 2011.http://www.auburn.wednet.edu/arhs/www/hof/clovett/pie/history.htm
- Lewis, Edna and Scott Peacock. "Cheese Straws." The Splendid Table. 2011.http://www.publicradio.org/columns/splendid-table/recipes/cheese_straws.html
- McHuston, L. "Eastern Ham a Holiday Tradition in the U.S." Inlandia Press. April 23, 2011.http://www.inlandiapress.com/index.php/2011/04/23/easter-ham-a-holiday-tradition-in-the-us/
- Melina, Remy. "Why Is The Mint Julep The Official Drink of the Kentucky Derby?" MSNBC.com. May 6, 2011.http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42935549/ns/technology_and_science-science/t/why-mint-julep-official-drink-kentucky-derby/
- "Pecan 101." National Pecan Shellers Association. (Aug. 10, 2011) http://www.ilovepecans.org/history.html
- Salkeld, Lauren. "Lucky Foods for the New Year." Epicurious. 2011.http://www.epicurious.com/articlesguides/holidays/newyearsday/luckyfoods
- Schreiner, Bruce. "Kentucky Distilleries Rapidly Expand Amid Bourbon Boom." Associated Press. June 21, 2011. (Aug. 8, 2011)
- Stradley, Linda. "History of Boiled Peanuts. What's Cooking America. 2004. http://whatscookingamerica.net/History/BoiledPeanutsHistory.htm
- Stradley, Linda. "History of Grits - Grits Recipes." What's Cooking America. 2004.http://whatscookingamerica.net/History/GritsHistory.htm
- Sterling, Justine. "Celebrate Fat Tuesday with a King Cake Fit for a King." Delish. March 8, 2011.http://www.delish.com/food/recalls-reviews/history-of-the-king-cake
Santa Fe, New Mexico, celebrates the fiery tradition of burning Zozobra each fall. HowStuffWorks joins the hottest party of the year for a look.