There are several popular theories of the origin of the term “barbecue”. One centers on a wealthy Texas rancher accustomed to throwing huge shindigs for his pals, cooking whole sheep, hogs, and cattle over open pits. Depending on whom you believe, his name was either Bernard Quayle or Barnaby Quinn, but with either, his ranch branding iron had the letters BQ, with a line underneath, reading “Bar-BQ”.
Another has the English word barbecue deriving from the Spanish word barbacoa, which wordsmiths say came from babracot, a word referring to the greenwood (probably allspice) sticks used to form a cooking grill in the Haitian Taino dialect of the Arawak-Carib language. This is the version favored by etymologists. Texans prefer the branding iron version.
A popular cooking magazine insists that the word came from an extinct tribe of cannibalistic Indians in Guyana thought to barbecue their enemies. Others maintain it came from the French term “barbe a queue”, meaning “from whiskers to the tail” …a direct reference to barbecuing whole pigs or cows they say. Last but not least, a source in North Carolina claims it came from a 19th century advertisement for a joint that served many purposes: whiskey bar, beer hall, pool cue hall, serving roast pig. It was known, so says the story, as the Bar-Beer-Cue-Pig. Texans completely disregard versions referring to cannibals, the French, or North Carolina as transparent hogwash.
However the name evolved, it reflects a method of cooking and a taste that is dear to all Texans, ingrained and cherished from birth.
Mick Vann ©