Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Barbecue Qua Barbecue
I've recently spent time in several of the nation's major barbecue regions, and I've come to the conclusion that the term "barbecue" is misleading, a misnomer that implies that these widely disparate food items are in some essential way the same thing. By my reckoning they aren't.* I'm no expert on either the detailed taxonomy of the various species or their preparation techniques, but a pork sandwich from North Carolina strikes me as a very different thing from Texas smoked brisket.
Is there a counter argument? Is there some unifying quality** of either method or result that sets barbecue apart from all other foods?
* The genesis of this thought came from a conversation in which someone made the same point about chocolate and white chocolate.
** If we wanted to get fancy (and why shouldn't we), we could point out that Wittgenstein has already covered this territory, although in his particular example he was talking about the definition of games, not barbecue. And his point was that no single unifying quality is necessary. And I agree. So I guess I just refuted myself in my own footnote. Damn!