Whether it’s Texas brisket or a pulled pork sandwich from South Carolina, barbecue throughout the Southern states can be clearly distinguished by the way that it is prepared and served. The word “barbecue” is said to have originated from “barbacoa,” a Caribbean word that means to slowly cook a whole animal with smoke, and it now commonly used to refer to the slow-cooked meat itself, the apparatus in which the meat is smoked, or as a verb. Merriam-Webster’s definition of barbecue is “to broil or roast (meat, fish, etc.) over hot coals or an open fire” and “to cook in a highly seasoned vinegar sauce.” These definitions are general, leaving much room for interpretation and dispute among the Southern states, many of which claim that their style of barbecue trumps all. For some, it’s the sauce, or lack thereof, that makes it. Other states identify their barbecue by the type of meat or the kind of wood that the meat is smoked with. Take a walk on the Trail of Smoke and Fire to discover which state you think would win at a barbecue cookout!
Steven Raichlen, Barbecue Curator
Multi-award-winning author, journalist, cooking teacher, and TV host, Steven Raichlen is the man who reinvented barbecue. His best-selling Barbecue! Bible cookbook series and Primal Grill™ and Barbecue University™ TV shows on PBS have helped people all over the world ascend the ladder of grilling enlightenment. Raichlen’s obsession with live fire cooking began with The Barbecue Bible (Workman, 1998), an IACP/Julia Child Award-winning encyclopedic study of global grilling chronicling his 4-year, 200,000-mile odyssey in pursuit of the world’s most remarkable grilling. How to Grill (Workman, 2000) was the world’s first step-by-step guide to live fire cooking, with more than 1000 color photographs, hailed by the New York Times as “astute, approachable, and eminently appealing."