The Evolution of Smoked Meat And American Barbecue
Have you ever wondered why Americans are just crazy about smoked and grilled delicacies? We simply love to smoke everything from pork shoulders, zesty briskets, chicken, fish and even sausages! The wonderful, beautiful alchemy of the low-and-slow American smoking tradition would intoxicate anybody who happens to be in the vicinity, no matter the meat you pick!
While smoking meat is both elemental and universal, it has gone to another level in the United States, particularly in the Southern states of Texas, Carolina, Memphis and Kansas City. There are many ways to enjoy meat in our country, but smoking meat remains one of the most popular ways to dine even today.
So why and how has meat smoking started and how it evolved to the present-day techniques used widely here in our country?
Smoking is an age-old practice of preserving meat that originated in cold countries to help conserve food over the long winter months. Later on, the process of smoking emerged as a culinary process of adding flavor to different types of food, meat is the most prominent of course. It also fused with the practice of pre-curing meat with salt or a salty brine, which helped to preserve the meat even more.
It is believed that the first instances of smoking meat emerged with the primitive cavemen. Once the fire was discovered by our distant ancestors, albeit accidentally, they immediately put their heads together to look for new ways to use their latest discovery. And among many things, they invented the art of smoking meat that survives to this very day! It is believed that these early cavemen, who initially used to hang their meat out to dry, found out that the smoke from the fire would give the meat a totally different and much better flavor, and they were immediately hooked.
Smoking originated quite independently all around the world - anywhere where there happened to be extended winters and lots of fish. It might come as a surprise to many, but the American Indians were happily doing it even before the Europeans landed here. All across Europe, from the British Isles and Scandinavian nations to the remotest parts of Russia, people figured out quite early in the human history that smoking meat was a great way to not only preserve it but enhance its texture and flavor.
In America, smoking goes back to the indigenous tribes who were scattered all over the North American continent before the arrival of Europeans. The history of American barbecue, grill and smoking is as diverse as it is old, and involves many traditions and techniques that merged together as the Spanish conquistadors brought Caribbean cooking style to the region, the Europeans offered their own distinct flavors and the settlers perfected the art with a dice of their own seasoning.
But history can only go so far so as to explain the origins of smoking meat. Only a true barbecue lover and enthusiast know the pleasure that transpires when the meat hits smoke! Today, our smoking techniques are made far better and easier with the use of butcher wrapping paper, which brings out the true and natural flavor and texture of meat while keeping the moisture locked in.