Barbecue is a distinctly American style of cooking with a long history. Most culinary historians believe that the word itself originates from the Spanish barbacoa.
This was the term that the Spanish, on landing in the Caribbean in 1492, applied to the Arawak Indians’ method of slow-roasting meat over a tall wooden platform. This was the way natives not only cooked animal flesh but also preserved it.
The first recorded barbecue collaboration between Spaniards and Indians occurred in 1540, near what is now Tupelo, Mississippi. Working together with members of a tribe of Chickasaw Indians, Hernando de Soto prepared a feast using pork brought from Spain, which was then cooked on a barbacoa device. From then on, the Spaniards adopted the cooking style and added their own refinements.
This culinary method eventually found its way into the British colonies of Virginia and the Carolinas. In these regions, slaves did most of the cooking, maintained the smokehouses and prepared open pit barbecues for celebrations from weddings to political gatherings. Cooks doused meat in vinegar, which today remains the major ingredient of most barbecue sauces in North Carolina. However, since German settlers in South Carolina were fond of mustard, they used it as the base ingredient in their sauces. Their experiments resulted in a barbecue mustard sauce that has since come to be identified with the state.
Other settlers brought their own culinary traditions with them and the sauces that they used to make smoked barbecue meat. This resulted in three other distinct varieties of barbecue: Kansas City, Memphis and Texas styles. Kansas City style uses ketchup, vinegar, herbs, spices and liquid smoke. Memphis style involves pulled pork shoulder marinated in a sweet tomato-based sauce. Texas style varies according to region. East Texas barbecue is similar to Memphis style, but West Texas barbecue involves beef brisket slow-cooked over mesquite wood.
Coker’s Barbecue is proud to continue this tradition of great American cooking. Not only do we hand-smoke the wide variety of meats that we use. We slow-cook everything – up to twenty hours, depending on the meat – using our very own special sauce recipe to falling off the bone perfection. See our menu.
For mouthwatering barbecue beloved by connoisseurs and just about everyone else, Coker’s is it!