A scholarly though eminently enjoyable treatise on the history of barbecue, thoroughly researched by the South Carolinian author of Raymond Chandler: A Literary Reference (2003). The Caribbean’s Taino Indians named this cooking technique cum social event, with one of the earliest barbecues documented in Jamaica in 1706. Barbecue quickly gained southern fans, most notably as a vehicle for political campaigning. The advent of the Civil War and its aftermath, Reconstruction, witnessed the further growth of this cooking style and its division into specific region types (for instance, North Carolina’s preference for thin, spicy, and vinegar-based sauces versus Texans’ desire for sweet, thick, and tomatoey sauces). Commercial success quickly followed, as sauces, equipment manufacturers, and restaurateurs emphasized the glories of barbecue (yes, that’s how McDonald’s started). California pioneered the home backyard version we first identified as barbecue, and after a brief decline in interest, Americans reembraced barbecue in all shapes and varieties. Sidebars enliven the somewhat pedantic text, from the origins of hash as a side dish to the first-ever barbecue competition (1978 Memphis in May). --Barbara Jacobs
"In recent years, there has been an abundance of books detailing the history of American regional foodstuffs from apple pie to fried chicken, but few writers have tackled one of the most singular American food traditions: barbecue. Author/food historian Moss takes up this challenge in his engaging history of barbecue from its origins in colonial America to the development of regional styles and barbecue restaurant culture. In the early chapters, Moss describes the impact of barbecue on American politics in the South and the Midwest, the role of the Civil War on barbecue and its place in African American food culture, and the rise of "barbecue men" in the late-19th century. The last half of the book details the different regional styles of barbecue that grew out of the barbecue restaurant boom of the mid-20th century and the rebirth of barbecue restaurants today. This is an engaging work suitable for public and academic libraries with large food history collections. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates and general readers."
Moss knows more about the history of barbecue than anyone I’ve yet encountered, and nothing like this book has ever before been published. To his great credit, he treats his subject seriously but not solemnly. Barbecue is simply a lot of fun to read about. At least it is in Moss’s hands. He has some good stories to tell, and he tells them well. I love it that aristocrats of the South Carolina low country established private clubs where gentlemen could eat cue without having to mingle with the hoi polloi. Who knew that barbecue once flourished in New England?”
John Shelton Reed, coauthor of Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue
“Amazing as it seems, in all the welter of barbecue books extant, there is not a single one that comes close to recording this history. The effort has been long overdue, but here it is, finally, and it fills some huge gaps in the long and colorful story of this food tradition. I venture to guess that if the word gets around that a real social history of barbecue is on the market, it will stir up some genuine interest among the tens of thousands of Americans who love this subject. It’s truly the first comprehensive history of American barbecue.”
—John Egerton, author of Southern Food: At Home, on the Road, in History
“Moss is a food historian and freelance writer from the Charleston, S.C., area who spent 10 years bringing this book from the roots of its research to press. I'm glad to say that it was time well spent. If you enjoy reading about barbecue history, then this book is a must-read for you. What sets this book apart is what you discover in this book that you don't find in many other places. I really enjoyed the new perspectives that Moss has brought forward. This is a book you'll want to pick up soon.”—Doug Mosley for National Barbecue News