Barbecue or Barbacoa brought by slaves?


It seems to be we love socializing even before time began.
In a book call “What the slaves ate” I read about red pepper been introduced to southern cooking from slaves originating from Africa.
Owners used red pepper to irritate wounds inflicted by whips on their slaves. They were mixed by slave cooks with vinegar to create a barbecue sauce to flavor cooked meats.
Slaves loved barbecue sauce because it helped mask the flavors of some of the lower grade meats that were common to slave diet. Over time, the sauce became widely accepted regardless of the quality of meat used.
While there are a number of theories surrounding the true origins of BBQ, most experts believe the root of the word comes from the West Indies word “barbacoa,” meaning to “slow-cook meat over hot coals.”
Most etymologists believe that barbecue derives from the word barabicu found in the language of the Taíno people of the Caribbean and the Timucua of Florida, and entered European languages in the form barbacoa. The word translates as “sacred fire pit.” The word describes a grill for cooking meat, consisting of a wooden platform resting on sticks. But who are the Taínos?. The group is subdivided into three main groups: Classic Taíno, mostly from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic; Western Taíno or sub-Taíno, from Jamaica, Cuba (except for the western tip) and the Bahamian archipelago; and Eastern Taíno, from the Virgin Islands to Montserrat.
Many Taíno implements and techniques were adopted by the Europeans and Spaniards, including the bohio (straw hat) and hamaca (hammock), and the musical instrument known as the maracas. Taíno words still exist today in the Puerto Rican vocabulary, such as names of plants, trees, and fruits. Other words were passed not only into Spanish, but also into the English language, such as huracan (hurricane), and of course the barbacoa (barbecue).

The barbecue entered the Unites States in the late seventeenth century from the slaves that were imported from the West Indies and the Caribbean islands. During the 1890’s, the barbecue became a social event when Americans began socializing outdoors.
The Southern version of pit barbecue migrated to Texas in several stages beginning in the early 1800s. Black slaves recount cooking barbecue to celebrate the harvest on Texas cotton plantations before the Civil War. And Juneteenth, the holiday commemorating the freeing of the slaves in Texas has been celebrated with barbecue since 1865.
European meat smoking was brought to Central Texas by German and Czech butchers during an era of intense Germanic migration that began in the 1830s and reached its height around 1890. The German meat markets sold fresh meats and smoked their leftovers in enclosed smokers, as they had done in the Old Country. They were probably astonished when migrant cotton pickers first mistook their smoked pork loin and sausages for barbecue in the late 1800s.
It was the black and Hispanic cotton pickers who began the tradition of eating that German smoked meat on a piece of butcher paper with nothing but crackers or pickles they could find on store shelves as accompaniments.

polenta

Many Taíno implements and techniques were adopted by the Europeans and Spaniards, including the bohio (straw hat) and hamaca (hammock), and the musical instrument known as the maracas. Taíno words still exist today in the Puerto Rican vocabulary, such as names of plants, trees, and fruits. Other words were passed not only into Spanish, but also into the English language, such as huracan (hurricane), and of course the barbacoa (barbecue).
The barbecue entered the Unites States in the late seventeenth century from the slaves that were imported from the West Indies and the Caribbean islands. During the 1890’s, the barbecue became a social event when Americans began socializing outdoors.

There is so much more to learn about the slaves, Taínos and who passed on their food culture but for now I too will celebrate the holidays with friends and families cooking a barbacoa!

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