The word varies in spelling; variations include barbeque, BBQ, and Bar-B-Q. Smoky Hale, author of The Great American Barbecue and Grilling Manual (ISBN 0936171030) traces the word back to its Caribbean roots in Taino (one of the Arawak family of languages). In one form, barabicoa, it indicates a wooden grill, a mesh of sticks; in another, barabicu, it’s a sacred fire pit. Traditional barbacoa implies digging a hole in the ground putting some meat (goat is the best, usually the whole animal) on it with a pot underneath (to catch the concentrated juices, it makes a hearty broth), cover all with maguey (cactus) leaves then cover with coal and set it in fire. A few hours later it is ready.


Image: Community Barbeque/Barbacoa de la comunidad
Macias Ranch
Men removing barbeque from the pit/
Los hombres remueven la barbacoa de la hoya
Wickenburg, Arizona
1930s MP SPC 173.A172
Ocampo Family Photograph Collection
Arizona State University


Dave’s Temporary Insanity Sauce

“Why am I doing this? I must be insane.”

This thought crept into the back of my mind more than a few times in the midst of spooning down several hundred amateur salsas. It was one of the best times of my life. Weeks later, my tongue is still recovering from the onslaught. I won’t even mention my innards.The Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival is an annual tradition here in Austin, Texas, going back thirteen sweltering years. It is something that we all look forward to, though we’re not really sure why. Every time there is great speculation and analysis why anyone in their right mind would willingly go to an outdoor park in 100 degree F August weather and collectively chomp down a few hundred gallons of salsa and hot sauce. No one has been able to give a reasonable explanation. We just love the heat. That’s the best I can do.

Judging the Individual Category at the Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival
By Brian Rush
Brian Rush is the manager/buyer at Tears of Joy Hot Sauce Shop on 6th St. in downtown Austin, Texas.