Virginia is for Barbecue Lovers

Locals consider our state’s famous style the best in the South

American barbecue is borrowed from many different cultures, making it as diverse as the south itself. But where can you find the best barbecue? Brisket lovers might say Texas can’t be beat. Pulled pork fanatics start talking about favorite places in North Carolina, and ribs aficionados dream about Memphis barbecue.

Just as all barbecue fans can’t agree on where the best barbecue hails from, they also don’t agree on the correct way to spell the word: is it barbecue, barbeque or BBQ? While regional differences certainly still exist, Joseph R. Haynes’ Virginia Barbecue: A History makes the case for our Virginia being considered first among all American barbecue cuisines. If you’re wondering what constitutes Virginia-style barbecue, it originally included chopped and sliced pork and beef (as well as chicken in the Shenandoah area) with four different regional sauces.

Haynes, a Virginian native, traces the state’s barbecue back to the Powhatan natives who slow-roasted meat on wooden grills. Their influences—plus that of English colonists and African-Americans who contributed spices and seasonings—soon made the style famous throughout the nation. When the Commonwealth residents migrated to other states, they brought their famous barbecue and advertised it as such. In fact, when politicians wanted to garner goodwill with voters, they threw enormous barbecue parties, which often proved to be quite raucous. These outrageous grand parties eventually ended amid religious opposition and post-Civil War decline.

Haynes’s writing is matter-of-fact and packed with tons of information without being dry or academic. Black and white photographs scattered throughout include advertisements from long-gone establishments, recipes, political gatherings and even current barbecue stops that continue to serve Virginia-style barbecue. The Commonwealth residents continue to take great pride in their unique style. In 2016, the Virginia General Assembly designated May through October Virginia Barbecue Season.

If Virginia Barbecue: A History leaves you hungry for more, check out Haynes’ blog “Obsessive Compulsive Barbecue” for more details about his research and travels. Haynes, an award-winning competition barbecue cook and master barbecue judge, interviews and lectures on the history of Virginia barbecue and Native American cookery. He also consults with museums and other organizations featuring demonstrations and re-creations of our state’s historical barbecues. Virginia Barbecue: A History is available from the Fauquier County Public Library.

You can learn more about Virginia barbecue on Sunday, July 30, at 2 p.m. when Mr. Haynes presents “Calling all Barbecue Lovers!” at the Bealeton Depot, adjacent to the Bealeton branch library, 10877 Willow Drive North. Haynes will discuss how southern barbecue developed in Virginia, its traditions and its changes through the centuries. He’ll tell where authentic Virginia barbecue can be found today, as well as provide authentic and delicious local recipes that can be made at home. His book will also be available for purchase. If your mouth is watering to try some authentic Virginia-style barbecue, you won’t be disappointed! The Bealeton-Remington Ruritan Club will be selling barbecue lunches prior to the program. All proceeds benefit the Ruritan Club. You can call ahead to reserve your plate, but drop-ins are also welcome. If you have questions about this program, or to place your reservation, call 540-422-8500, ext. 3.

If your summer plans include barbecue, or other outdoor summer fun, the Fauquier County Public Library has many resources to help you plan and host a great summer event or meal.

Book Recommendations

Barbecue Bible by Steven Raichlen
If you want to expand your barbecue knowledge, pick up this enormous collection of tips covering everything from the proper way to light a grill to sauces/rubs from various barbecue traditions to guidance on food safety.

The Big Book of Outdoor Cooking and Entertaining by Cheryl Alters Jamison
Ready for some serious outdoor entertaining? This book includes over 800 recipes for appetizers, main courses, and drinks.

Master of the Grill: Foolproof Recipes, Top-Rated Gadgets, Gear, & Ingredients Plus Clever Test Kitchen Tips & Fascinating Food Science by the editors at America’s Test Kitchen. If you’re familiar with America’s Test Kitchen’s magazines or its PBS show, you know that they meticulously test their recipes. If you want extensively tested recipes for burgers, steak, and more, look no further.

What Can I Bring? Cookbook by Anne Byrn
Invited to a cookout this summer but need some inspiration? Read on for over 400 ideas for appetizers, salads, side dishes, and desserts to wow your friends and fellow attendees.

About the Author:

Jennifer Schultz is the Youth Services Librarian at the Fauquier County Public Library and recently celebrated her 10-year anniversary with the Fauquier County Public Library. A Louisiana native, she unabashedly loves the New Orleans Saints, hair bands from the ‘80s, Broadway musicals, and all things Star Wars.

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