Something interesting to digest
The word barbecue comes from the language of a Caribbean Indian tribe called the Taino. Their word for grilling on a raised wooden grate is barbacoa. The word first appeared in print in a Spanish explorer's account of the West Indies in 1526, according to Planet Barbecue.
Berries to brisket
Experts claim that around 2.5 million years ago, meat became a big deal.
Katherine Milton of the University of California, Berkeley, claims that early humans were forced into this dietary change because the berry-rich forests of Africa were receding and these hominids simply couldn't get enough plant matter to stay alive. In support of this claim, archaeologists have found 2.5 million year old stone tools clearly used to butcher animals for their flesh and other tools used to smash bones for marrow. For the next few million years, humans apparently stuffed themselves with raw meat. And then somewhere, somehow, somebody offered it up cooked.
Pirates Making Jerky
‘Bucanneer’ pirates who roamed the Caribbean Sea during the 17th and 18th Century slowly smoked meat over a low fire on a wooden framework. The most popular meat for smoking was pork, but any meat would do - and this even included manatee and turtle!
The heat from the slow fire and heavy smoke permeated and dried the meat resulting is a dense, dry, chewy jerky. In a time before refrigeration, this made the meat portable and long-lasting - which also made it a good protein food source for sailors and ships at sea. It was an alternative to the salted meats typically supplied as shipboard rations.
America - home of barbecue
The history of barbecuing in America dates to colonial times. In fact, one of the first laws enacted in the colony of Virginia during the 1650s forbade the discharge of guns at a barbecue.
U.S. presidents were known to be big fans of the laid-back pastime. George Washington's diaries abound with references to barbecues, including one that lasted for three days. When Abraham Lincoln's parents were married, their wedding feast was a barbecue.
Along the way, famous inventors left their mark on the American barbecue: The first commercial charcoal briquet factory was designed by Thomas Edison and built by Henry Ford in 1921, according to Planet Barbecue.
A Cultural ‘Gift’ to Derry?
During WWII around 120,000 US troops were stationed across Northern Ireland. Many locals have very fond memories of the Americans and look back on the war days with a great sense of nostalgia. Perhaps one cultural gem the records may not have captured is the great tradition of barbecue.
In February 1942 the United States Navy established its first base on this side of the Atlantic, on the banks of the River Foyle in Ebrington, Londonderry. Shortly after, 750 Marines found themselves guarding this key Navy base and various other vitally important installations in the area including in the grounds of the Beech Hill estate.
Goodness knows how many barbecues they had!