When the first Spanish explorers arrived in the new world they found the indigenous people of the Caribbean
preserving meats in the sun. This is an age old and almost completely universal method. The chief problem with doing this is that the meats spoil and become infested with bugs. To drive the bugs away the natives would built small, smoky fires and place the meat on racks over the fires. The smoke would keep the insects at bay and help in the preserving of the meat.
Tradition tells us that this is the origin of Barbecue
, both in process and in name. The natives of the West Indies had a word for this process, "barbacoa". It is generally believed that this is the origin of our modern word Barbecue
, though there is some debate on the matter.
The process began to evolve with the migration of Europeans and Africans to the region of the Southern United States. European pigs and cattle were transplanted to the new world and became the primary meat source for the colonies, pork being the meat of choice in the South due to the ability of pigs to thrive with little care. The racks used to dry the meat were replaced with pits and smoke houses.
Now pit cooking
is by no means new at this point in history
or specific to any particular region of the world. If we define Barbecue as a process of cooking
meat (or specifically pork) in pits then the inventors of this process are probably the Polynesians who have been masters of slow, pit cooked pork for thousands of years. So we will have to leave the definition for another time.
The process of slow cooking meat in early colonial times was often reserved for poor cuts of meat left for slaves and low income
peoples. Higher quality meats had no need for a process of cooking that would reduce the toughness of the meat. Throughout the south Barbecue has long been an inexpensive food
source, though labor intensive. But I am getting ahead of myself.
One thing to remember that without a process of refrigeration
, meat had to be either cooked and eaten quickly after slaughter or preserved by either a spicing or smoking process. Traditionally spicing requires that large amounts of salt
be used to dry the meat and lower the ability of contaminants to spoil the meat. Smoking in this period of time had much the same effect. The indigenous practitioners of Barbecue, cold smoked meat meaning that the meat was dried by exposure to the sun and preserved by the addition of smoke."
Now I had a friend who claimed to be in Africa
when a local villager offered her some meat. First the villager spent some time shaking out the maggots, before cooking & serving it to her. Appearantly, this was a common practice for preparing their meat, which was never refrigerated.
Now if you're on a sailboat, perhaps all flies become a non-issue once you're about a mile from the coast, & therefore maggots are a non-issue. Drying meat in the sun seems very intuitive to me. Something about sunlight just seems like it would bleach it, kill bacteria & help preserve it.
So, it seems the smoke also helps to keep the flies away, but does charcoal really give off so much smoke? Seems more for cooking & who wants a smoked up house when cooking w/ charcoal? Charcoal is supposed to be great for BBQing & smoking meat.
I got some baitfish now in a bucket of salt
, sitting outside in the sunlight. I'm hoping the sunlight will help dry the salt out, cause the salt seems to be absorbing moisture either from the fish
or from the air. IDK, but it's turning a little slushy. I shake up the bucket every now & then, but what I really wonder is how thin does the meat strip need to be? This is important! I saw a movie
about a guy in AK who caught a caribou & tried preserving it, but he cut the strips too wide & it all spoiled on him & he died of starvation. If he knew how thin to cut it, he would have lived. Anyone know?