I watched a show called Food Heavens about barbeque yesterday. Funny thing is that, even though they showed it on their schedule, I could find no pages about it. Maybe they knew how screwed up the show was. I wanted to send them an email. There are a few arguable criticisms, but a lot of what they got wrong is fact, not up for debate.
According to this show, the US has four types of BBQ:
- North Carolina (pork) with a ketchup/vinegar thin sauce.
- Memphis (pork) with a thick tomato based sauce (looked like Kansas City thick, sweet style sauce to me.
- Kansas City (pork) with a tomato based thick, sweet sauce
- Texas (beef) with what looked like a thick, sweet Kansas City type sauce
So, what we seem to have here is one thin ketchup/vinegar sauce and three variations of the tomato based, thick and sweet Kansas City style sauce.
The “expert” BBQ historian mentions the origins of BBQ as being in the Carolinas, but doesn’t mention South Carolina. She attributes the origins to the English colonists. She also placed way too much importance on Texas and Kansas City, both latecomers to the BBQ scene .
OK, so what is wrong with this?
- Let’s start with the origins of BBQ. BBQ was actually invented in SOUTH Carolina by the Spanish and Edisto Indians. The first European settlement in the US was a Spanish colony in what is now St Helena, South Carolina (back then, the area was part of what the Spanish called Florida, a huge area). The Indians had the cooking method and the Spanish had the pig. The rest is history!
- Traditionally, only pork is BBQ. Technically, Texas brisket is not BBQ, even though it is slow cooked and very tasty.
- There are actually four original styles of BBQ in the US. BBQ styles are defined by the sauce and how it is used, since all BBQ is slow cooked over low temperatures. Note that only one state (South Carolina) historically has all four sauces as indigenous developments).
- Thin ketchup/vinegar sauce (the show got this one right)
- Thick ketchup based sauce ala Kansas City style (the show got this right)
- Thin vinegar sauce (eastern North Carolina and parts of South Carolina). The show completely ignored this one.
- Mustard based sauce (South Carolina midlands). The show completely ignored this one.
This show really does BBQ a disservice and it is a shame. Let’s get it right and give credit where it is due.