Georgia is probably the native home of the barbecue, but it spread thence to most of the Southern and Southwestern States, and has even invaded some of the Northern ones. Georgia, however, still retains its supremacy as the Barbecue State. “The barbecue is to Georgia,” says D. Allen Willey, in the Home-Maker’s Magazine for December, 1896, ” what the clambake is to Rhode Island, what a roast-beef dinner is to our English cousins, what canvas-back duck is to the Maryland or, and what a pork-and-beans supper is to the Bostonian. The barbecue has done much for Georgia. It has played its part in politics, in social gatherings, in the entertainment of strangers, and in festivities generally. It has come to be a necessary part of all kinds of social functions, and the man who has visited Georgia and come away without a sample of barbecue viands is indeed to be commiserated.
“The genius who prepared the first barbecue is unknown, although there are a dozen theories offered as to its origin. Get into a country store and sit on the cracker-box by the side of two or three Georgia ‘colonels’ and ‘majors,’ and they will tell any number of tales about how their ancestors bought their estates from the Indians and to close up the bargain gave the ‘noble red men’ a barbecue, consisting of venison and sweetened hoe-cake, followed by plenty of imported rum and other ‘firewaters.’ One thing Is clear, and that is that game constituted the meat cooked in the barbecue of fifty years ago. As deer, bear, and other animals became scarce, oxen, sheep, and pigs took their places. The variety of viands increased until the barbecue of to-day may contain fish, beef, mutton, pork, vegetables, and fowls. It depends much on the liberality of the givers and the number invited to participate. The popularity of this kind of entertainment is so great that it is enjoyed in cities as well as towns. Even in the wire-grass country, where possibly the white farmers live two or three miles apart, a half-dozen families will get together on a holiday, or some one’s birthday, perhaps, kill a sheep or a pig, and have a barbecue. During the Atlanta Exposition a daily barbecue, at which three or four hundred persons were fed at once, was a feature.”
A GEORGIA BARBECUE.
Faint wreaths of smoke are dreaming skyward in rings of blue;
A subtle, savory steaming is softly filtered through
The sheltering trees that whisper the secret everywhere.
While hill and valley revel in the dewed, delicious air!
And then, that crackle of the twigs above the smoky pits;
Where brown and palatable pigs make Wisdom lose its wits!
And then—and then—the cry to arms! Knives, forks, flash to and fro,
And hungry hundreds praise the Lord, from whom all blessings flow!
Curiosities of Popular Customs and of Rites, Ceremonies, Observances, and Miscellaneous Antiquities, by William Shepard Walsh. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Co., 1897.
Songs of the Soil, by Frank Lebby Stanton. New York: D. Appleton & Co., 1894.