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Barbecue History Part 4

Barbecue History Part 4

Carving barbecued meat, 1937, Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Carving barbecued meat, 1937, Courtesy of the Library of Congress

As part of our ongoing barbecue history series we take a look at the fieldwork of Anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston. Starting in the 1930s she conducted field work in her home state of Florida as well as Georgia, Louisiana, and the Caribbean. She recorded a John the Conqueror folktale barbecue related story which is insightful in terms of Arjun Appadurai’s theory of “Gastro-Politics,” which he describes as “food related politics in which hierarchies, status and traditions are created and contested.” In the tale, John shames a rural “trashy” white couple, ordering them to consume their “barbecue and likker” out back in the kitchen away from the honored guest attending his barbecue. In the story, the marginalized couple is restricted to a space where the hog is butchered and prepared for barbecuing. The privileged are given access to the prized spaces where the host distributes the best cuts of meat. 

Alabama-Style Barbecued Chicken


1 Young Broiling Chicken

5 Tablespoons of melted butter

2 Tablespoons of Vinegar

1/2 Teaspoon Mustard

1 Teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce

Dash of Cayenne Pepper


Split the chicken for broiling. Place on a broiling rack above a shallow dripping pan, split side up and broil under a hot flame until well-browned. Turn and brown the other side. Frequently, during the broiling, baste the chicken with a barbecue sauce made from the listed ingredients.

Recipe from “The China Press” Issue September 11, 1936

Zora Neale Hurston on Barbecue

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Barbecue History Part 3

Barbecue History Part 3