The arguement of just how and where “Barbeque” began has been discussed for several hundred years, and is really a pointless endeavor. For the average barbeque lover, only the last couple of hundred years hold any relevance, and then only regarding the continental United States. The greatest love and knowledge of barbeque is further narrowed to the Southeast US, where it is clearly understood that “barbeque” is a noun, not a verb, as is presumed in other parts of our country. Not to mention, that correctly, barbeque involves the preparation of pork, not beef, chicken, or other vitals, so often used in the more backward parts of our land.
The three significant periods of Southern Barbeque History, are as follows : Late Colonial, post-revolution times, when it became common for plantation owners to host large gatherings open to friends, family, neighbors, and slaves, who all came together to share the benefits of the plentiful cooked pig, setting in place the enduring fact that barbeque is equally enjoyed by people of all races and social levels..Following closely is the 40-50 years prior to the Civil War, when the tradition of the previously described event was well established and common enough that most Southeners had sampled a variety of “barbeque”, and discovered that no two “barbeques” were exactly alike. Hence, while not yet commercial, the groundwork for future competition had been laid.
The third and most familiar period of Southern Barbeque History will always be the post WWII boom time that included the retrurn of millions of hungry veterans with a great desire for everything American, especially “home-cooked” food. As far as the perspective of the history of Southern Barbeque, we are still enjoying this period. . So, this is really just the beginning of the story, of how Birmingham became the Barbeque Capital of the South, or the US, or is it the world ? Just as everyone seems to have a taste-bud or two, likewise there could be just as many opinions, and I expect to hear loud arguements from a host of other Southern cities, or rather, their barbeque afficianados.
In the next post, we will examine the most famous and surviving, some booming BIrmingham barbeque institutions, and how they came to be what they are today. Let’s see now, we could start with Golden Rule, Ollie’s, Johnny Ray’s, Dreamland, Bob Sykes, Full Moon, Dimitri’s, Jim & Nick’s, Moe’s, and so on and so on. Are we leaving anyone out ?