Dear Up in Smoke Subscriber,
No, your eyes haven’t deceived you: You’re staring at a Smoke-Roasted Berry Crisp (pictured, above). It’s just one of the sweet yet smoky surprises we have for you this Independence Day. In honor of the Fourth of July, we’re also offering you the chance to win a sweepstakes with a grand prize (pictured, below) that includes my Best of Barbecue® spices, grilling tools, an eBook set of my books Best Ribs Ever; How to Grill; Barbecue! Bible: Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades; BBQ USA; and Secrets of the World’s Best Grilling (only available for the iPad), and much more. Click here to enter the BarbecueBible.com Sweepstakes now!
But what you may not realize is how long our country has been celebrating July 4th with barbecue or how diverse the “traditional” July 4th menu really is.
History buffs know that our modern word “barbecue” comes from barbacoa, the Taino Indian word for a wooden frame built over a fire for smoke-roasting game and seafood. By the 17th century, barbecues were so popular in colonial Virginia, laws were passed to prevent the reckless discharge of firearms at pig roasts. (Even back then, we Americans had a dual obsession with guns and smoked meat.) Here’s how Englishman Isaac Weld described a Virginia barbecue in the late 1700s:
“It consists in a large party meeting together, either under some trees, or in a house, to partake of a sturgeon or pig roasted in the open air, on a sort of hurdle over a slow fire … it generally ends in intoxications.”
In fact, George Washington was no slouch when it came to “barbicue,” attending as many as he could. (His diary records one particularly memorable grill session in Alexandria, Virginia, that lasted three full days.) Decades later, when the triumphant general accepted the surrender of British General Cornwallis at Yorktown, spontaneous barbecues were staged all over the country to celebrate America’s independence.
Here at the Raichlen home on Martha’s Vineyard, my July 4th barbecue has deep personal significance. I’m always on tour during May and June, so it’s the first time in weeks I get to spend time with my family. We build most of our menu around local and seasonal foods: clams dug in Cape Pogue Bay that morning; organic chicken from The Farm Institute, in Edgartown, Massachusetts; asparagus from Morning Glory Farm, also in Edgartown; and blueberries picked from the bushes that line our driveway.
There’s one dish you might be surprised to find on our menu: planked salmon. July was once prime salmon season in New England during the Colonial period, and July remains prime time for the gorgeous wild Sockeye, Copper River, and King salmon of the Pacific Northwest and Alaska.
So here’s the Raichlen family menu for July 4th, 2013!
Yours in righteous grilling,
Steven Raichlen's official newsletter, Up in Smoke, is available exclusively on barbecuebible.com. Culled from experiences on the barbecue trail and beyond, Steven brings you reviews you can use, recipes, answers to your questions, special BBQ store discounts, and more. The newsletter is FREE and comes out every month. It is available first only to subscribers to the newsletter and then posted a month later in the newsletter archives. Sign up today!