BBQ should be America's National Dish
BBQ should be America’s national dish, even with all the diversity that the country possesses. Barbecue is a dish with great flavors that could be a one part meal of simply bread and meat. A quick Google
search yield results for national dish considerations like Hamburgers, Wings, Pizza, Apple Pie and “Texas” BBQ as some of the tops. If one evaluates those dishes, they do not define the American Experience and they are rather new as you look at the agricultural history of the country. I thought about Gumbo but it is fairly regional. A case could be made for Fried Chicken but I believe barbecue should win out, when you when you look at the history of the dish and the country. Barbecue as Americans know it today, was perfected in the south before all the regionalization that are now starting to influence the world. A lot of cultures around the world cook meat over fire, but it is not American BBQ or its state/regional children known today. American BBQ started spreading globally with wars and tourism. At the state levels, Chef Hardette Harris created a North Louisiana State Meal that includes barbecue ribs and chicken. Barbecue ribs is a 20th century iteration of barbecue of whole animals.
A strong case can be made for Barbecue as it is part of the DNA or fabric of how the United St
ates developed and evolved since the indigenous, indentured servants, and enslaved started out in the colonies. However, in about a 40 year period, enslaved Africans displaced indigenous and indentured servants to fulfill force labor needs, not voluntarily on plantations across the South to create the wealth of America. During that time, the enslaved were evolving and perfecting Southern barbecue to what is recognizable today in whole animal cooking even if it is not the most popular form of barbecue due to media today.
Whole animal cooking in open air pits(trenches, holes in the ground) is found in the archiv
al literature pre and post American forming. The open air pits that were used to cook this barbecue, brought people around major events such as political rallies to gather votes, to celebrate big harvests, Christmas, and or other times that the elite wanted to show their wealth. The enslave also had separate barbecues on occasions but they maybe were one animal, either given or stolen. During all of those occasions the enslaved were doing the heavy back breaking work from slaughtering the animals to preparing the barbecues regardless of the scale. This continued on to America’s most recognizable holiday, the 4th of July, and this happens to also be one of the holidays where barbecues and cookouts are held in abundance. During slavery, the barbecues were manned by the enslaved.
The enslave people continue to man those pits until emancipation and the descendants for decades to come in the ongoing quest for true freedom, equality, and not living into different Americas. Evidence of these earth dug pits were found all over the south but in terms of a celebratory time for black folks, where black folks(recently emancipated enslave people) used on their own accord the open air earth dug trenches, was Juneteenth, in Texas. The barbecue became symbolic to celebratory and good times, whether it is Memorial Day, Labor, 4th of July, Christmas to name a few.
The good, bad, and ugly of America can be seen in the barbecues. While it was bad, barbecue greatest aspect is its ability to UNIFY. Barbecue should be consider the national dish in my opinion because, two things about Americans, they generally like to eat good barbecue and drink good alcohol. Alcohol and barbecue have been together lock and step every facet of America’s growth. Tax on alcohol funded the revolutionary war. Bourbon is the national spirit of America and so barbecue should become the national dish. The techniques and process to make both of those products will continue to evolve as influence by the geographies they are practiced. However you will have barbecues, cookouts, picnics (I don’t like using the latter for historic reasons) all over the country. Good Barbecue, Good Fellowship, Good Times and so in 2021, we have to figure out how to make barbecue America’s dish politically, even if symbolic because it says so much about America.
This is out of place, but this is my blog, so I wanted to place this detour here. I used to believe whole hog barbecue should be a Slow Food Ark of Taste item especially if Louisiana(really found all over the south) hog’s head cheese is on the list, as I thought the craft of pitcooking whole hog barbecue was dying. However, since that time I realize pitcooked whole hog barbecue was just a subset of many whole animals’ cookery from the goat, lamb, shoat, cow, turkeys, cows, and whatever could be put on the pit. This bigger set of open air pitcooking barbecue could be name Southern Barbecue for the sake of the Ark of Taste as barbecue is starting to become broad and diverse.
If someone know a politician that is barbecue enthusiast in the US House or Senate, please let me know. Please share my blog and look at previous blogs if you found this one interesting. Check out the 100 Acres Project on GoFundMe if you want to support a personal project I am working.