Steven Raichlen's Barbecue! Bible


The Brave New World of Barbecue

The Brave New World of Barbecue
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“They trap deer and pigs with branches and traps made of nets, into which the animals fall. At times they hunt and beat them out, and with a great number of people they attack them and take those that they can kill with arrows and spears. After they have killed the animals, since they do not have knives with which to skin them, they quarter them and cut them into pieces with stones and flints. They roast the flesh on sticks which they place in the ground, like a grating or trivet, over a pit. They call these barbacoas, and place fire beneath, and in this manner they roast fish also. Since this land is naturally hot, even though it is tempered by Divine Providence, fish and meat soon spoil if they are not roasted on the same day that they are killed or caught.”
This description of New-World cooking, the first written account of barbecue, was penned by Spaniard Gonzalo Fernandez de Oviedo y Valdes in his Natural History of the West Indies in 1526. It reminds us of why we grill when we’re feeling patriotic–and of how lucky we are to have evolved beyond the stone and flint. Sounds like a heck of a lot of work!

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