Question for Texas

Why do people from Texas call it “barbecue” when it’s not even pork?

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • Kenton

    Why do people outside of Texas call it barbecue when the sauce is not tomato based?

  • PJ Condit

    Oh my…Barbecue is the long process of cooking with indirect heat and smoke. But cattle is king in Texas, and all the pork gets ground into sausage! We ask the reverse question to Yankees! “Where’s the beef?!”

  • Karl Mitchell

    I’m confused. What does pork have to do with whether or not you call it barbecue? Is there some etymological or culinary tie between pork and barbecue?

  • Chris

    I wondered the same thing during my time at Truett Seminary (Waco, TX). I’m from Alabama, where BBQ=Pig. It shocked me when I ordered BBQ and they brought me sliced beef!

  • Katherinez

    We live in a Dutch settled area where bbq is equivalent to Sloppy Joes!

  • http://www.judydouglass.com Judy

    BBQ is definitely the cooking process–slow, smoked, preferably in a PIT! The seasoning rub matters. Brisket is best, but pork is also good. And ribs and sausage. But cooking on the grill is NOT BBQ. And if you spell it out, the real spelling is barbecue, not barbeque.

  • Peter Stone

    Here in the UK barbeque is a thing you use to cook any food but mostly meat over a fire outside.

  • Richard Olsen

    Karl@#3. Yeah, I thought the same thing. But then…I’m from California. And we BBQ everything.

  • Joe Canner

    According to the Online Etymology Dictionary (and other similar sources): “Barbecue” dates to the 1650s, a “framework for grilling meat, fish, etc.,” from American Spanish barbacoa, from Arawakan (Haiti) barbakoa “framework of sticks,” the raised wooden structure the Indians used to either sleep on or cure meat. Sense of “outdoor meal of roasted meat or fish as a social entertainment” is from 1733; modern popular noun sense of “grill for cooking over an open fire” is from 1931.

    So, as far as etymology is concerned, “barbecue” can be any meat cooked on a grill over a fire, regardless of any other preparation details (marinades, sauces, rubs, equipment, etc.)

  • Kenton

    Scot-

    Am I counting 4 – yes 4 trips to Texas in ’13 for you? Hmm… we must be doing something right, yes?

    Hoping to catch you at St. Matt’s in May.

  • Syler Thomas

    Have I taught you nothing? Indeed, to a Texan, barbecue refers to the way meat is cooked. You can have beef ribs, pork ribs, brisket, chicken, turkey, smoked sausage… and if it’s smoked and cooked using indirect heat, that’s barbecue. Usually involves barbecue sauce. And white bread. Worst thing was coming to Chicago from Texas for college and seeing all these signs on campus for Free BBQ and I’m thinking: nice! I’m getting some ribs and brisket…only to find hot dogs cooked on a grill. That’s a cookout, folks. Not barbecue.

  • scotmcknight

    From the infallible Wikipedia:

    Samuel Johnson’s 1756 dictionary gave the following definitions:[3]
    “To Barbecue – a term for dressing a whole hog” (attestation to Pope)
    “Barbecue – a hog dressed whole”

    In the southeastern United States, the word barbecue is used predominantly as a noun referring to roast pork, while in the southwestern states, cuts of beef are often cooked.[7]

  • scotmcknight

    Ahem, Syler, did I not point you to The Smokehouse?

  • Syler Thomas

    Who pointed whom?!?!?

  • http://www.edwardfudge.com Edward Fudge

    Because many folks who live in Texas (as I have for the past 31 years) have never tasted the “real thing” (as I did growing up and later living ten years in North Alabama, where Whitt’s Barbecue is king!). They can experience it also in the airport in Nashville, Tennessee, if they are ever so blessed to be there, especially during Fall when Middle Tennessee puts even New England leaf colors to shame! (The perfect barbecue sandwich is pulled pork, smoked over hardwood, served on bun with light mayo, pickle, and slaw made wih vinegar.)

  • http://www.chadelliott.wordpress.com Chad

    My, Scot … you do like to ask the controversial questions, don’t you? What’s next, “Why do you call it chili when it has beans in it?”

  • EricW

    Next thing you’ll be asking us Texans is “What’s a grit?”

  • EricW

    On a more relevant note: That book by Jack Levison, Fresh Air: The Holy Spirit for an Inspired Life, that has been praised here, is currently on sale for $2.99 for the Kindle Edition (and you don’t need to have a Kindle to read it – a computer or smartphone app will work): http://theparsonspatch.com/2013/02/27/bargain-kindle-books-on-amazon-mcknight-levison/

    As you can see, some of Scot’s books are on sale, too. For $2.99 it’s a no-brainer re: buying Fresh Air!

  • scotmcknight

    EricW, a “grit”? That’s what we throw on the road when it snows. Never understood how anyone could or would want to eat grit.

  • AHH

    For paradise the Southland is my nominee
    Just give me a ham hock and a grit of hominy
    – Tom Lehrer

  • Eric

    Them thar’s fightn’ words…

  • Sijov

    New Zealander, a barbeque is a gas cooker with a plate or grill over it. Most commonly used to cook sausages for fundraisers.

  • metanoia

    Well, that deteriorated quickly. :-)

  • Doc Mike

    Why do people from Chicago call it Major League Baseball when it’s the Cubs?

  • http://krusekronicle.com Michael W. Kruse

    In tradtional barbecue religion, only pig is kosher. We in the Reformed tradition also eat beef.

  • http://Www.liberty.edu Dr. Charles Hughes

    Bar b q any time / any place / anyway !

  • Jeremy

    That thing about it always being pork in the South is rather odd…I grew up there, lived all over and it could be chicken, pork or beef; sauce, white bread and maybe some corn on the cob and potato salad totally required.

  • MatthewS

    BBQ Brisket by any other name would still be a most wonderful food. But I wonder what other name it is supposed to be called? Definitions (and the broader domain of grammar) are not pristine sets of rules unaffected by common usage. In fact, grammar at large necessarily follows common usage (at a distance) else it’s a dead language. So if whole groups of folks call it BBQ when they cook beef over a fire in some way, not sure we can say that’s wrong any more than we can enforce usage of “literally” to mean only its strict, “literal” definition. But maybe there’s a whole food religion I don’t even know about at work here… Love the irony of “only pig is kosher”.

    And I guffawed out loud at #24!

  • James

    This question, Scot…it…it…it must simply be comment and site view bait. Otherwise, there simply is no logic to it. BBQ is beef. All else is simply smoked or grilled meat. And don’t even get me started on such ungodly actions as calling a weenie roast a bbq. That’s just sin. And “bbq chicken” is an oxymoron.

  • James

    Oh, and to quote Anthony Bourdain, “Only Jews and Texans understand brisket.”

    #truth


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X