There are so many things to love about the month of May. The spring air, flowers blooming, warmer weather – but the thing we love the most about May is that it's National Barbecue Month! That means it's time to get out the grill, season up some steaks, and get cooking. You might think we are obsessed with grilling and you wouldn't be wrong. Around our house, the smoker and the grill get plenty of work all winter, but nothing beats those really early mornings when it isn't freezing anymore and we are stoking the fire box to smoke something all day long.
A Barbecue History Crash Course
Americans like to think that barbecue is an American tradition – right up there with apple pie and baseball. In a way, it sort of is. Researchers today believe the word originates from "barbacoa" from the Taino people who inhabited the Greater and Lesser Antilles Islands in the Caribbean. The word refers to the structure (typically made from green wood) on which meat was placed to cook over an open pit of coals. Barbacoa also was a structure people slept on and stored things under, not the process of cooking meat.
Christopher Columbus is credited with bringing barbacoa north. Over time, European immigrants and Native Americans incorporated various cooking styles, creating what we call barbecue today. When we refer to a barbecue, we are using one word for two purposes. It is both how we cook and what we cook on. In the most traditionalist sense, barbecue really refers just to low and slow cooking of pork over coals. Everything else is grilling.
BBQ Myths We Love
With anything that brings as much heated controversy as barbecue, we thought we'd share a few myths that are either entirely or almost certainly false. One is that the word barbecue is an amalgamation of French words that would loosely translate to "Beard to Tail", referring to the cooking of a whole animal. It's a cute story, but it's also false.
Another myth claims barbecue originated in Texas when a rancher with the initials B.Q. began slow grilling cattle. His ranch, called a Bar in cowboy vernacular, would feature cattle branded B.B.Q. There is not historical evidence to back up that this ever happened. But it's fun to throw the idea around during national BBQ month.
Why We Love National Barbecue Month
National Barbecue Month for us is like the starting gun of the best time of the year. Summer is coming, the freezer is stocked from successful fall deer hunts, and we've got lots of animals to slaughter in the months ahead. It's a busy time, but it also heralds the beginning of family get-togethers, random neighborhood gatherings, and opportunities to show off our absolutely incredible Bearded Butchers Barbecue Sauce.
5 Quick Facts About Barbecuing
Amaze your friends and family with these interesting (and totally useless) facts about barbecue!
- George Washington loved barbecue and hosted several while President of the United States, even providing 73 bottles of French Claret wine in one instance. Numerous presidents have held barbecues over the years. Lyndon Johnson used American barbecue as an opportunity to discuss international politics with world leaders.
- There are four recognized styles of American barbecue – Virginia, Texas, Memphis, and Kansas City. Each style is heavily influenced by the particular palates and available ingredients in the region. Don't ever tell someone from Texas that Memphis has better barbecue. Those are fightin' words.
- Henry Ford and Thomas Edison developed a Ford car that was also a barbecue. They would go for drives together in the country while cooking lunch. Kingsford Charcoal was a development of Ford Motor Company that repurposed wooden packing crates parts were shipped in.
- The world's largest BBQ pit hails from Texas (are we surprised?). It serves up 8,000 lbs of meat and was recently sold for $350,000 on ebay.
- Despite the word barbecue being only a few hundred years old, scientists have uncovered evidence that humankind has been cooking over coals for at least one million years. In 2009, a massive cooking pit filled with mammoth rib bones and conch shells was discovered, maybe indicating the first "surf-and-turf" experience. the pit was dated to 29,000 years ago.
Celebrate National Barbecue Month With Some of Our Favorite Recipes
We have a few of our most cherished recipes here for you. Maybe it's an opportunity to try something different, or maybe you want to try a new take on a classic. Either way, you'll find inspiration from these fantastic recipes curated by your favorite butchers.
Want to learn some tips and tricks to step up your barbecue game for national BBQ month? We've got your back. Check out our Ultimate Guide to BBQ.
We hope that you take an opportunity to get out and feast on some barbecue pork, steak, or chicken this May. From using different types of BBQ sauce to differences in the lump charcoal or briquettes used to cook, almost every barbecue is going to offer something unique, interesting, and delicious. Before you know it, July will be here and it will be the biggest day in barbecue season!