Actually the barbecue is an invention as old as fire (in fact, if humanity has come to this day, it has been thanks to having learned to cook food), but if you have to attribute paternity, the patent should be in hands of the Tainos. Settled on the islands of the Caribbean (these people knew how to enjoy life), to cook the meat of their fighters, the Taíno people used a utensil of green logs that they placed over the flames of a fire in a longitudinal pit. They were referring to that primitive kitchen contraption like barbacúa, I conclude that with the arrival of the Spanish colonists it was also used to describe the cooking technique through the heat radiated by embers or flames. That way of cooking ended up spreading all over the world. From the Argentine asados ​​to the many variations of the United States, from China and its char siu , the Mongolian stir rying or the Korean güi , the khorovats from Armenia, the mangalTurkish … the barbecue has stopped being a simple system of elaboration of meats (and fish and vegetables) for, either fed of wood, charcoal or gas, to become in all a social act. Subject of inspiration of hymns of the summer pachanga, nothing better than a sunny day in the company of friends, hot embers and a good cut of chicha lowered with the help of a cold beer or two.

And who came up with the grid practice? In 1832 an amnesty was approved in Uruguay for which thousands of political prisoners and common criminals regained their freedom. The Law was received with great celebrations throughout the country. Especially jaranosas were the celebrations in the presidios, mainly in the jail of the Colony of Sacramento, where the exconvictos now threw down the walls of the prison and several cattle of the neighbors of the zone worked. To cook them, an inmate pulled the door of his cell and with it built what they say was the first modern barbecue. In this constant battle they maintain for the paternity of facts and events, this theory is refuted by its Argentine neighbors. They say that since the mid-nineteenth century, in the vicinity of the Río de la Plata, the gauchos used to grind the flesh of the skinned animals iron grids that were usually used to dry skins and leathers. That, they say, is the true origin of modern barbecues. Invention of one or the other, the only certain thing is that the barbecue (for them the term barbecue is a sacrilege) are very serious in the area (as in Chile, Paraguay, southern Brazil, Bolivia …).

A serious matter

In the Southern Cone, where they enjoy some of the best meats in the world, the gauchos have been and still are the guardians of the essences as far as roasts are concerned. All families have their master parrillero, and when they engage in a barbecue, an act that, because of the work involved and the after-hours conversations that they generate, can last hours and hours, it will be this and only this one who takes care of the correct execution of the liturgy. The gaucho Martín Fierro, protagonist of a classic of Argentine literature such as the homonymous narrative poem, written by José Hernández in 1872, used to say that “every bug that walks goes to the spit”. However, as a general rule, roasts – of which there are three variants: the cross, the rotisserie or the stake – are usually made with beef meats, being the most common cuts the rib-or roasted strip-and vacuum. Once the meat is done, they cut it with a facón and they go for the bread. In the case of  to be people more ‘finolis’ or city, the option is ‘to the plate’.

For their part, the ancient Mayans had a cooking method called baalba koab . At a depth of one meter they modeled a cylindrical furnace. In it they placed charcoal on the charcoal, green logs, on these, a ceramic bowl in which the juices of cooked meat were precipitated, and finally, a new row of logs. And now, on top of this second wooden grill, covered with agave leaves, the fillets. Finally, they closed the oven with a circular stone that they sealed with mud and let the chicha roast with heat and steam for four or five hours. This system (which has been modernized continues to be used in many areas of Mexico) has evolved to find the current barbacuesfrom New Mexico and Texas (for many, the best grills in the world), where they roast the meat (the favorite cuts of the locals are the breast, the sausages and the pork ribs seasoned with salt and pepper) in brick ovens. However, in the United States, especially in the south of the country, there are almost as many ways to barbecue as there are stars on your flag. In Florida, for example, smoked foods are characteristic. In South Carolina the secret lies in the sauce, always with a hint of mustard. In Georgia, where the grill and the oven alternate, it is legendary Brunswick stew, where several pieces of smoked meat are combined with beans, tomatoes and corn. Lexington, in North Carolina, has proclaimed itself the capital of the barbecue world. A tour of its many exquisite grills certifies this. Do not fall behind in Missouri. Home of the American Royal World Series of Barbecue, something like the world championship of barbecues, here life follows the rhythm of the slow fire that mark its grills. And, of course, we could not miss Memphis, Tennessee, and their pork cuts cooked in wood ovens for more than 20 hours and served with a barbecue sauce where the protagonism falls on the vinegar seconded by a touch of tomato and several spicy spices.   

The arrival of the ‘sputnik’

To the United States, a country where roasts are a religion, we owe the democratization of barbecues, universalization of which a man called George Stephen is largely responsible. At the end of the 40s Stephen worked as a welder for the Weber Brothers Metal Works company. His main undertaking in the company was to weld two half spheres of steel with which they made buoys. When the good weather came, there was no weekend without barbecue at the Stephen’s house. But the good of George was out of his mind when the wind blew fillets, sausages and burgers were covered with an unpleasant layer of ash. That’s when it occurred to him to take the bottom of one of the buoys he made, weld three legs and add the top half sphere as a lid. Dubbed by George’s neighbors as ‘Sputnik’ because of its satellite appearance, the modern family barbecue was born. Currently, the Weber-Stephen Products Co., company that this entrepreneur founded with his former bosses to market his invention, is unquestionably the brand of world-renowned barbecues.

On the other hand, after the kimchi, the Korean barbecue has been the most successful in recent years between foodies and other hunters of gastronomic trends. Their roasts in Korea are generically called güi , a word that derives from the term gupda, which literally means grill. Koreans make güi of meat, fish and vegetables. Meat barbecues, whether beef, pork, chicken or even pheasant, are the gogi güi . The traditional way of making them is with a small charcoal grill located in the center of the table. Once the meat is cooked, cut into small pieces and wrapped in a lettuce leaf with rice, garlic and other condiments such as gochujangand the doenjang . The saengseon güi is the fish barbecue, being especially appreciated by the Korean gourmets those of anguilla ( jangeo güi ), verdel ( godeungeo güi ), scallop ( garibi güi) or prawn ( daeha güi ). Vegetable barbecues are also very popular, such as the songi güi de matsutake, the beoseot güi of mushrooms or the gimi güi of seaweed. 

The barbecue also has a reserved place in the Chinese and Mongolian recipes. In China triumphs the cha siu , which is the Cantonese-style barbecue. Made from pork, the secret of its exquisiteness is not so much the grill but the sauce with which they are watering the meat while toasting. The marinade formula includes sugar or honey, five-spice powder, soy sauce and sherry or rice wine. The charshu is the Japanese version. The main feature of the Japanese adaptation is that the meat or fish is not roasted but boiled (well, it is not a barbecue) and the joint is made only of soy sauce and honey, which gives it a more flavor sweet than the Chinese barbecue. The stir fryingIt is the particular Mongolian method of barbecue. Very similar to the Japanese teppanyaki , on a brick oven in which the embers are hidden, there is a round iron plate about two and a half meters in diameter where they roast, mainly meats and vegetables.

Between Asia and Europe, Armenia and Turkey also have their barbecue variants, the khorovat for the former and the mangal for the Ottomans. There is an Armenian saying that “you earn enough money if you can invite your friends to three khorovatsa month.” The khorovat is one of the most ingrained culinary customs of the country, typical barbecue on holidays and large banquets. It is made mainly with lamb meat (although pork has been gaining prominence in recent decades). The pieces are cut into cubes and introduced into embers inserted in shampoos, which is what they call the skewers in Armenia. Maybe because of the smoke that the barbecues raise, in Armenia it is a sign of good education not only to warn the neighbors that you are going to throw yourself a good part of the day doing a khorovat , but also to ‘bribe them’ with several spikes so they do not complain. A similar liturgy accompanies the preparation of the Turkish mangal , a variant of barbecue that has spread from Istanbul to other countries in the Middle East. Typical in outdoor feasts with friends or family, the mangal – which was originally the name given in the Ottoman empire to indoor stoves used to heat food –It is also prepared in pinchitos and is usually served accompanied by salad, lowering them with a glass of salgam , a very traditional drink in Turkey, especially in the south of the country, made from pickled carrot juice and seasoned and seasoned with a kind of aromatic kohlrabi called çelem . Come on, a