The earliest remains of a campfire have been found - from 1.5 million years ago! That must have been one rustic cookout.
We don't know what they were cooking - a snarly sabre-toothed tiger? A winter-ready woolly rhinoceros? An equally woolly mammoth? A nice meaty mastodon?
Whatever the main, we can be quite sure that they weren’t having a quinoa salad side, or a basket of fresh-baked rolls, and certainly not an ice-cream dessert!
Cooking vs BBQ
When man started cooking food, the incidence of food-borne illnesses went down! More nutrients were released from their food, more bellies were filled with warm meals, and maybe a few oral story-telling traditions were born as we started sitting around our cooking fires.
But was every hot meal a BBQ? After all, every BBQ is a hot meal… what a puzzle!
Let’s follow the bread crumbs (or the smoke signals)…
When did barbecue become popular?
Believe it or not, but for most of human history, as soon as people could hide from the weather, they did their food preparation indoors. Shelter saved us from the elements, and from predators.
It wasn’t until the 16th century that Europeans were re-introduced to the concept of outdoor grilling! And this time, it was optional.
The Spanish explorers stumbled onto a little slice of paradise in the West Indies, and there they witnessed the Taino tribe grilling meat on a raised grate. And they were intrigued.
Unfortunately the Taino word for this style of cooking has been lost to history, but the Spanish word will sound familiar: barbacoa.
BBQ can travel around the world faster than a microwave can get its trousers on
No sooner did the Spanish ship arrive back to Europe, than word began to spread of this casual get-together. Across Europe, north and south; as other colonial powers began to spread across the globe, they took with them their new-found love of the smokey grill, and each new region left its indelible stamp on the food.
Salty, sweet, spicy, meat: a saucy passport
In Argentina, the herby chimicurri gained ground, while in Central America, the spicy green sauce is called chirmol. Mam nem co-stars pineapple and shrimp to give a very Vietnamese flare to the BBQ in Asia, while back in the port of entry to Europe, the Catalan romesco sauce uses local almonds and paprika for an earthier offering.
Naturally, the Americans tend to use a sweeter base for their sauces, while the South Africans and Australians favour a chutney-style.
While sauces everywhere vary, the simple meat preparation itself leaves little to regional differences: after all, what can really change about an open fire, a grill, and the right piece of meat?
It was a bit of a trick question, as interestingly, around the world, the following debates continue to take place:
- should you press the meat on the grill?
- do you pour beer on top to finish the glaze?
- who really is the Grill Master?
- tongs, or long fork?
- natural gas, or briquettes?
We can’t answer these questions for you, but we can say one thing:
THE SEASON HAS BEGUN.
So bust out your snazziest BBQ apron, gear up your grills, loosen up your flipping wrist, and stock up on beer cozies, because with the need to keep your socializing outside this summer, 2021 is lining up to be the ultimate barbecue season.
And while you and your friends and family settle generations-long debates, take advantage of our Rare-Box Made for BBQ Box to test out some new sauces, new flavours, and maybe even add to your personal must-have BBQ arsenal.
See you at the grill.
How to grill everything!