Sunday Tips: Definition Edition

Barbecue (Fr.) Originally the method of cooking (roasting) an animal whole; to dress and roast whole; a social entertainment where the food is cooked outside in the open. – Mrs. Beeton

This just has is all: history, historical take on history, etymology…and atmosphere. A few years back, during my undergraduate archaeology days (before a) I realized I had little desire to do a 9-year PhD, and then b) wound up in law school) I spent a summer digging in Greece and living with the rest of the excavation team in a small village on the Aegean coast. This village didn’t have any real restaurants – just a few bars which served amazing mezze and gyros – but every weekend the local butcher would set up tables on the patio next to his shop and serve lamb. Or rather, serve a lamb. A whole lamb would be stuck on a spit and roasted in an open brick hearth and bits would be hacked off as people ordered. Our dig’s Polish ceramics expert once ordered the head; the butcher happily served it up, eyeballs and all.

If only I had the outdoor space to do a whole-animal roast. I’d totally use the offal to try Mrs. Beeton’s haggis recipe, and have people over for some really old-school revelry. Sadly, I don’t even have the indoor space to prepare something like that: my kitchen is luxurious by Manhattan standards (it has a real doorway!) but I still only have about 1.5 yards of counter space, total, and this amazing article by Bill Buford details the pitfalls of whole-animal butchery in The City…

Getting back to American Barbecue: I really posted this because it reminded me that I’m going to Dinosaur BBQ Tuesday and that I am REALLY excited to dig into a Tres Hombres platter (“A spirited serving of Bar-B-Que pork, Texas Beef Brisket (sliced) & Bar-B-Que ribs”). This will probably feed me for 2 days. Maybe I’ll even look into my Army Wives Casserole Book to figure out what to do with the leftovers…

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