The Sacred Fire Pit

by Sukruti Anah

A barbecue brings the family together, it is the definition of good food, good times and great memories. What has now been inculcated into various cultures as a part of dining in the backyard, traditionally – the ‘barbecue’ was a way of life. If you are thinking, ‘oh! the fun of an everyday barbecue’ – I’ll just say that is not how they tell the story.

It is believed that the word barbecue was derived from ‘barbicu’ of the Caribbean language, and as it travelled to Europe it slowly took form of the word ‘barbacoa’ which literally translates into ‘the sacred fire pit’.

A Recipe Scroll teaching the people of the 1600s – How to Make Your Own Barbicoa

1. Find large un-barbicoaed plot of land

2. Dig deep hole

3. Prepare hunted meat

4. Place pot in the hole

5. Place meat at considerable distance

6. Cover with Maguey leaves

7. Place coal

8. Set alight

9. Wait for few hours

10. Uncover and eat, then repeat process.

Thankfully, we live in the 21st century and don’t generally utilise such procedures to enjoy that lovely barbecue/barbicu/barbacoa. Sooner or later, this process of cooking meat spread like wild fire (pun unintended). From the Korean bulgogi meaning fire meat, the Russian shashlik to the Indian/Pakistani tandoori and the Brazilian Churrasco – we have not and never will run short of the various styles of cooking meat directly over fire.

Once again, each country adds its own idiosyncratic flavour to the Barbecue and that will vary depending on the sauces and marinations used along with the variety of sides. The most recent Barbecue I enjoyed was a British BBQ, with perfect pork sausages and sumptuous chicken fillets. The sun was out at the time, and we sat under the shade with our plates over-flowing with cous-cous and a chill glass of cider not far off.

A Barbecue is one of those meals that need perfect timing, so I will sit by the fire till the sun shines down again and then it will be time for another Barbecue, this time maybe a new sort.