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It's Foodie Friday! Borbecu

Friday, May 27, 2011
So it's Friday and the start of Memorial Day Weekend.  And even though when I look to my right out of my office window at the gloomy yet amazing Northern California sky, one thing I know for sure is that no gloom is going to keep millions of Americans from the grill this weekend getting their smoky *cough, cough* barbeque on while they enjoy family and friends.  Of course, my hope is that everyone remembers to commemorate the United States' fallen soldiers whether they are at the grill or at the beach, because paying homage is what this weekend is all about. 
When I sat down to write this Foodie Friday post, the question on my mind was "Where did barbeque originate?" Before I even placed my fingers on the computer keyboard to do a Google search, I answered my own question with "Probably a lot further back than anyone can account for." After all, it makes sense to me that before there were stoves, there were open fires, right? And every culture from every part of the world at one time or another had to have cooked their food and grilled their meat or fish on an open flame, right? Right.
Chippewa women cooking over open fire.
Photograph Collection, 1910 / Visual Resources Database
Minnesota Historical Society
Location No. E97.32 r3 Negative No. 79816 / Source
I find it a pleasant irony that my Web search ultimately pointed me to voyager William Dampier's New Voyage Round the World since I've just given birth to Wandermania and voyages around the world fuel stories about different cultures and get me all tingly inside.  (There are no accidents.)  In Dampier's travel memoir which began in 1679, he writes: And lay there all night, upon our Borbecu's, or frames of Sticks, raised about 3 foot from the Ground.  I was struck by the spelling of the word borbecu and its etymology, so instead of a boring trip down The History of Barbecue Lane, I will instead bore you with a few etymological facts while I whet your appetite with some barbecue photos/video in between.  *Snicker*

An Argentinian asado on an open pit...for...a large crowd of guests.
Photo Source:  Wiki
Fact No 1:  Most etymologists believe that barbecue derives ultimately from the word barabicu found in the language of both the Timucua of Florida and the Taíno people of the Caribbean, which then entered European languages in the form barbacoa. The word translates as "sacred fire pit."  [Source: Wiki]

A barbecue at a street fair in New York City's East Village
known as "Ternera a la Llanera" from the Colombian marshlands
Photo Source:  Wiki
Fact No 2:  There is ample evidence that both the word and cooking technique migrated out of the Caribbean and into other languages and cultures, with the word (barbacoa) moving from Caribbean dialects into Spanish, then Portuguese, French, and English. The Oxford English Dictionary cites the first recorded use of the word in the English language in 1697 by the British buccaneer William Dampier[Source: Wiki]

Striped bass on the barbecue...yummmmm.
Fact No. 3:  In British usage, barbecuing refers to a fast cooking process directly over high heat, while grilling refers to cooking under a source of direct, high heat—known in the U.S. and Canada as broiling.  In US English usage, however, grilling refers to a fast process over high heat, while barbecuing refers to a slow process using indirect heat and/or hot smoke.  [Source: Wiki]

Fact No. 4: The word barbecue has attracted several inaccurate origins from folk etymology. An often-repeated claim is that the word is derived from the French language. The story goes that French visitors to the Caribbean saw a pig being cooked whole and described the method as barbe à queue, meaning "from beard to tail". The French word for barbecue is also barbecue, and the "beard to tail" explanation is regarded as false by most language experts. The only merit is that it relies on the similar sound of the words, a feature common in folk-etymology explanations. Another claim states that the word BBQ came from the time when roadhouses and beer joints with pool tables advertised "Bar, Beer and Cues". According to this tale, the phrase was shortened over time to BBCue, then BBQ.  [Source: Wiki]

I believe I have just sufficiently proved that I am a bit of a nerd (LOL) and have no problem admitting that I find the origin of words interesting.  What I find more interesting, however, is that I have just made myself hungry, so I'm going to try to talk my husband into a little borbecu this weekend.  But first, I'm going to spend a silent moment thinking about the men and women that have fought and died for me, for you and for our families.  Remembrance first, borbecu later. 
Enjoy your weekend!


Veronica on: May 27, 2011 at 2:04 PM said...

I'm a bit of a nerd too! :) ....and I loved this article. Thanks for the information...As a 'foodie' it's always good to dazzle folks with some food history!

Unknown on: May 27, 2011 at 3:32 PM said...

*Waving* at Veronica. Hiya Foodie! =D It IS fun to throw around fun facts sometimes and have people look at you like "Where'd you get THAT from?" LOL Enjoy your weekend!


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