BORN IN OLD FLA

Cultures throughout the Old World were using wood fire to roast and smoke swine long before the Spanish first crossed the Atlantic with a few hogs in tow.  But roasted or smoked pork is not Bar-B-Q [see DEFINITIONS below].  So where did Bar-B-Q come from?

The key event occurred in the early 16th century when the swine toting Spanish explorers first met the Timucua tribesmen of what is now northeast Florida, and subsequently gave them one of their hogs to cook alongside the Timucua’s wild game.  The Timucua had a long established tradition of slow cooking game and fish on a wooden rack built high over a smoldering oak fire they called “Barabicoa” or “The Sacred Fire”.  Somewhere in between smoking and roasting, their cooking method yielded a very tender and richly flavorful meat that also benefited from the mild preservative effects of lengthy exposure to wood smoke.

Shortly after the first hog toting European explorers landed on the coast of modern day northeast Florida, the native Timucua put one of their guests' hogs on the wooden rack above their sacred fire, and Bar-B-Q was then born on land that would later be one of the United States of America.  Hogs then made their way north and west out of Old Florida, as did the Timucua's cooking tradition.  But it should be no surprise that the greatest Bar-B-Q is still found where it was born.

Over the centuries the great Old Florida Bar-B-Q tradition evolved and incorporated the simmering of a balanced mustard based sauce to perfectly compliment our oak and pecan infused Bar-B-Q.  Though virtually unacknowledged by mainstream media coverage of "Barbecue", it is nevertheless America's greatest and most authentic Bar-B-Q.  No other region's barbecue rivals the succulent and balanced harmony of divine Deep South flavor from our brined and simply seasoned swine cooked over a well tended oak and pecan wood fire with a lil' Old FLA style Bar-B-Q sauce.

A slowly fading but proud tradition rooted in the woodlands of upper Florida, Old FLA Bar-B-Q is a predominantly rural art that is rarely found commercially, but it still lives on in our back yards, farms, and at a few tail-Gators, parties, soirees, and drink-em-ups round these parts.  Though not easy to find, once you do, you will understand.

DEFINITIONS

Bar-B-Q (n.):  Swine, or parts thereof, cooked over & by the heat and hot smoke of a steady smoldering hardwood fire, tended for even air & smoke flow and consistent cooking temperature of 200F to 240F.  [While efficient, the commonly used gas rotisserie cookers that ignite wood or wood pellets to add smoke flavor to meat do not create Bar-B-Q, but rather a reasonable facsimile thereof]

Grilling (v.):  Cooking food directly over a wood fire or other heat source at temperatures from 300F to 700F or higher.  

Smoking (v.):  Cooking food with wood smoke at temperatures between 85F & 120F over a long timeframe to preserve food for long term storage without refrigeration.  Often performed after salt curing of the meat.

Hot Smoker (n.):  This is controversial, but I firmly believe true Bar-B-Q can only be created with a "straight" pit or cooker [i.e. the fat from the meat drips down on to the fire or heated drip pan and vaporizes] which creates a moist, fat-saturated cooking environment that yields a flavor quality that can not be achieved with pits or cookers that utilize an offset fire box.  Such pits or cookers are sometimes referred to as "hot smokers" as opposed to true barbecue pits.

Chunky T (pronounced "chunk-T"): A dude maniacally driven to create the highest quality Old FLA Bar-B-Q humanly achievable, regardless of cost and required effort, and with the proper hogs, wood, and other essentials.

BAR-B-Q & THE DEEP SOUTH

Much more than just an outdoor cooking method, in the Deep South Bar-B-Q is a time honored tradition involving hallowed rituals, closely guarded secrets,
and mysterious dogma so deeply ingrained into the fabric of the Southern psyche as to be a vital pillar on which the very essence of “Southern-ness” rests. 

Born in Old Florida through the collaboration of its Native American and European forefathers, and profoundly shaped by the institution of slavery, Bar-B-Q migrated north and west from its birthplace in north Florida to form a tapestry of regional variations across the American South and beyond.  The culinary crown jewel of the Deep South, Bar-B-Q is the quintessential traditional American food. 

Now folks here in the South are known to hold their convictions about certain matters with such vehement passion that to debate these matters in the face of such unshakable certainty is pointless.

There is perhaps no better example of this than the revered subject of Bar-B-Q, and the widespread disagreement regarding its every conceivable facet across [and within] the various regions of the American South.  From the “right” kind of sauce to even its spelling, every Southerner’s Bar-B-Q / Barbecue / Bar-B-Que / or BBQ is not only the best, the mere notion of the slightest deviation from the hallowed rituals required for its creation would be an unthinkable sacrilege. 

But if you can somehow look beyond the intractable discord over wood, hogs, cookers, techniques, marinades, spices, rubs, bastes, sauces, straight or offset, brick or steel, open or closed, black or white, red or yellow, mopped or not, etc., etc., etc., you will see that Bar-B-Q is really about the shared art of  "the sacred fire", or as the native Timucua of north Florida called it, "Barabicoa".