How The Enslaved Helped Usher in the Culture of Barbecues

Adé Hennis
May 5, 2023

In a world where there’s so much going on, being able to kick back and converse with family and friends is one thing that helps keep Black people together. Barbecues and cookouts are rooted in Black culture.

In the late 1400s, Taino tribes in the Caribbean were known for their slow-cooking technique on wooden boards. The term used to describe the process was known as barbacoa, which would later be referred to as barbecue in America. And the technique’s history didn’t stop there.

During enslavement, Black people were forced to cook for their captors, whether it be on a wooden grill, bonfire, or similar types of traditional wood/charcoal burning sources. But barbecuing back then wasn’t as fun as it is now.

Barbecues were a physically demanding job, having to chop wood, as well as butcher, process, and cook animal meat. But as we continued to gain those culinary skills throughout the years, barbecues evolved into a celebration for our people.

Cookouts may seem like only holiday celebrations, but that activity is rooted in African and Caribbean culture. The same fire that stoked our ancestors’ fight for freedom also ties us together across the globe, so fire up the grill and celebrate.

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