There is nothing more iconic than an American family getting together besides their barbecue to grill up some of their favorite meats and vegetables. Most states have their own flavor, and none can be considered the absolute best compared to the other.
American cuisine is heavily influenced by the cultures which have mingled within the states. While BBQ is known as a traditional American cooking method, it actually is derived from the Caribbean, specifically from the Taino Indians. Explorers that came to settle the American continent were fascinated by the Taino Indians, noticing that they cooked and smoked their meat on wooden sticks, while the open flame tickled and slightly charred the frame. Barbecue comes from the Spanish word "barbacoa", meaning "raised stick frame.”
Traditionally, southern states are well-known for their barbecue flavors as they pride themselves on being the best, not just by state standards, but even in a local competition. It is not uncommon to find friendly neighborhood cookouts or even large festivals such as Ribfest.
According to Food and Wine Magazine, some of the best barbecue restaurants can be found in Texas. Both Austin and Dallas are rated highly for their barbecue offerings. Brisket, sausages, and pork ribs are all served either sauce-less (in Austin) or with a tangy sauce (in Dallas) to show off the area’s flavors.
Brownsville, Texas is inspired by Mexican barbecue in its techniques and flavors, preferring to serve their meat on tortillas with salsa, onions, and cilantro. While it is unusual to have barbecue cooked in a pit because of health regulations, a restaurant in Brownsville has had theirs grandfathered in, allowing them to make and serve meat barbecued in this traditional way.
Missouri is another state well-known for its style of barbecue.ta. It has the fourth highest number of barbecue restaurants per capita. Kansas City-style barbecue is defined by the use of a tomato and molasses-based sauce. Any meat can be covered in this sauce in the city’s barbecue restaurants. Pulled pork, smoked chicken, beef, and pork ribs are especially popular. A favorite of many locals is the burnt ends of smoked brisket covered in sauce.
St. Louis is another city known for its sweet BBQ sauce. St. Louis-style spareribs are the city’s claim to fame. These pork ribs are sliced to make them easier to eat. They have become popular across the country, as many people think of “BBQ ribs” as being prepared in this way.
In the western part of the state, the focus is on wood-smoked pork. While other areas forego sauce or use a tomato-based, sweet and tangy sauce, Carolina-style barbecue uses a mixture of ketchup and vinegar to create its signature sauce. It is also common to serve sauce-covered pork shoulder with a cabbage slaw.
In eastern North Carolina, an entire pig is smoked. While this meat is usually served without sauce so the smoked meat can shine, it can be served with a dressing made of vinegar and pepper. Almost all eastern Carolina barbecue restaurants will serve their meat with coleslaw, hush puppies Ade of fried cornmeal, and sweet iced tea.
Tennessee has the sixth most barbecue restaurants per capita. In Memphis, chopped pork or pork ribs are usually prepared with no sauce, so customers can focus on the signature dry rub. A mustard-based slaw is often included with these pork dishes. Some restaurants accent their meat with a spicy tomato and vinegar sauce.
Nashville is another city known for barbecue, but they are one of the few that does not have its own style. Instead, they take inspiration from Texas brisket, Midwestern-popular pork ribs, and smoked chicken. Tomato-based sauces may be used, but instead of the sweet sauces of Missouri, Nashville’s sauces can be extremely spicy.