This appeared in the Guardian on July 4th - reminding you that you should always feel guilty no matter what you do.
Barbecue is a form of cultural power and is intensely political, with a culture of rules like no other American culinary tradition: sauce or no sauce; which kind of sauce; chopped or not chopped; whole animal or just ribs or shoulders. And, if America is about people creating new worlds based on rebellion against oppression and slavery, then barbecue is the ideal dish: it was made by enslaved Africans with inspiration and contributions from Native Americans struggling to maintain their independence.
Yes. Apparently even barbecue is political now.
Enslaved Africans and Native Americans had a lot in common, culinarily-speaking: they had been cooking and eating in similar ways. despite an ocean between their civilizations.
And nobody else figured out the whole "roasting meat over an open flame" thing, right?
Barbecue is now widely recognized as a staple of the American culinary canon – so much so that at least three national holidays (Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day) are associated with it. Barbecue is laced with the aspiration of freedom, but it was seasoned and flavored by the people who could not enjoy any freedom on Independence Day for almost a century.
It's not all bad, though. The comments section is loaded down with snark. Here's my favorite response.
I look forward to the author's next installment of how the African and American Indian connection helped humanity understand the importance of drinking water.