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The Great American Pastime: BBQ

Just where did the term barbeque originate? The Oxford English Dictionary states that the word barbeque was derived from the Spanish word barbacoa which itself was taken from a Haitian word barbacoa, meaning "a framework of sticks set upon posts." Meats and fish were placed on these posts and slowly cooked.

Different woods lend different flavors to barbequed meats.

Another theory is that French-speaking pirates in the Caribbean, upon observing a pig being roasted whole by the Natives, described this cooking method as being de barbe en queue, that is, "from beard to tail."

Adding spices to meat

C.Clark Hale, author and barbeque expert, explains: "I recently had the good fortune to correspond with Peter Guanikeyu Torres, President and Council Chief of the Taino Indigenous Nation of the Caribbean and Florida. He . . . translated barbeque from Taino language as follows: Ba from Baba (father), Ra from Yara (place), Bi from Bibi (beginning), Cu from Guacu (the sacred fire), or 'the beginning of the sacred fire father.' He further explained that Taino barabicoa means 'the stick stand with four legs and many sticks of wood on top to place the cooking meat.' He advised that Taino barabicu means 'the sacred fire pit.' "


Whatever the origin of the term, barbeque, barbecue, or BBQ in the United States has come to mean anything from slow cooking with heat and smoke (the traditional way), to grilling over an open fire, to the gathering itself where grilled or smoked meat is served.

Grilling meat

Slicing up a barbequed beef brisket

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Bo McSwine, owner of Bo's Barbecue and Catering in Lafayette, California, has been barbecuing most of his life. Click on the links below to hear Bo explain what it takes to make the perfect barbecue.


Flavor from the grill.

Flavor from the rub.

Flavor from the sauce.


Flavor from the wood.

Tips about fire.

Tips about grilling.
Tips about sauce.
The secret to good BBQ.
Tips about wood.
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