Heart of Texas Magazine

Chasing the BBQ Truths, Myths and Legends through Texas

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“Cooking is like painting or writing a song. Just as there are so many notes or colors, there are only so many flavors- It’s how you combine them that sets you apart.”-Wolfgang Puck

Tried and true and about as American as we can get is our love affair with barbeque. Or is it BBQ, Bar-b-que, barbecue, or even barbacoa? There are a variety of ways used to pronounce it, just as there are a variety of down-home family recipes passed from generation to generation ready to argue their barbecue is the best! Believe it or not, it also goes way beyond Texas. Although we Texans love to brag we have the best barbecue anywhere across the globe, the truth of the matter is scrumptious barbeque can be found in other states, each with their own unique style to it. Is it as renowned as, say, Black’s Barbecue in Lockhart, Franklin’s BBQ in Austin, or Truth BBQ in Brenham? Some would argue not, but one thing for sure is that everything is bigger in Texas, and good barbecue is a prime example.

Chasing the BBQ Truths, Myths and Legends through Texas

Photo: “A southern barbecue, wood engraving from a sketch by Horace Bradley.”

The evolution of our beloved barbecue can be traced to areas known as the “barbecue belt,” according to an article by Smithsonian.com. “The area of the United States known as the “barbecue belt” houses four distinct barbecue traditions – Carolina, Texas, Memphis, and Kansas City.” Interestingly enough, I also came across an article from CulinaryLore in my search for the backstory on barbecue and discovered some unique explanations about where the word was derived.

Chasing the BBQ Truths, Myths and Legends through Texas

Photo: Courtesy of Franklin BBQ

Call them what you may, facts, theories, or myths, but the following explanations as to how the word barbecue made its way into the hearts of millions is worth a share. One theory, according to culinarylore.com, says the French laid claim to the word by stating it comes from… “barbe à queue which translates loosely into “from beard to tail.” Simply put, roasting the entire pig over fire pits, which, according to CulinaryLore, was how the first barbecues were done. The Spanish laid claim to the derivative of the word by stating it had… “actually come from the Carribbean Taino Indians, who cooked on high wooden racks above burning wood. They called these racks barbacoas.” Furthermore, they state Columbus brought this technique back to Spain, which in turn introduced the pigs into the mix because they “brought the pigs to Florida which multiplied throughout the Southeast.” Lastly, the word is said to come from “the Taino word barabicu which means the sacred fire pit,” shared CulinaryLore. Although these explanations sound good in theory, the origins vary as much as the variety of barbecue recipes you will come across.

Chasing the BBQ Truths, Myths and Legends through Texas
Photo: Courtesy of Truth BBQ

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