Even Vegans Can Barbecue
Ray: “Can vegans barbecue?”
Anika: “Of course they can”
Ray: “No. I mean can they really call it barbecue because barbecue refers to meat, correct?”
Anika: “Well, according to the etymology of the word ‘barbecue,’ which could be interpreted to mean anything cooked on a stick or on a bed of sticks over fire, vegans can definitely barbecue. The word doesn’t translate directly to preparing and eating meat. Plus, barbecuing is a cultural activity in addition to a cooking method. So of course they can.”
I was confident in my answer as I had just read and reviewed, The Slaw and the Slow Cooked: Culture and Barbecue in the Mid-South, which clearly explained the etymology of the term. Yet, when I returned home I felt I had retorted without full confidence. Did barbecue really only refer to meat? If you got down to the nitty gritty of it, would it be impossible for vegans to actually “barbecue” Portobello mushrooms or summer squash?
According to James R. Veteto and Edward M. Maclin (editors of The Slaw and the Slow Cooked), barbecue is a term that stems from the Spanish barbacoa, coa referring to a stick or a skewer. Barba, however, is the Spanish word for beard but in the instance of barbacoa most likely refers to Barbados, barbacoa meaning a food of the people of Barbados cooked with or on a stick. While barbacoa and barbecue are both contextually referred to the process of cooking or grilling meat over an open fire, the etymology of the word itself doesn’t delimit the cooking of vegetables.
More importantly than the history of the term itself, however, is the experience of barbecuing and what it means to our culture. Barbecue is a method of cooking and an act of tradition. Gathering around an open fire or a backyard grill on a lazy afternoon, drinking a cold one, chatting with friends and strangers, and sharing a moment of reverence for how food can bring us together…that’s something everyone can do, no matter if there’s burgers or ‘bellos on the grill. It’s been part of American life for centuries. We use barbecues to rally constiuents for political campaigns, to gather the family, to celebrate births, graduations and independence, to glorify the summer season and reign in the fall. Barbecue is an experience, and perhaps even a feeling, for all eaters,…not just carnivores. So rest assured vegans. Even you can barbecue.
Want to get your veggie barbecue on? Check out the awesome selection of organic summer produce at the Brooklyn Kitchen. Some of our vegan grillable items include:
- Japanese Mirai Corn (Lancaster, PA)
- Nectarines (Lancaster, PA)
- Plums (Lancaster, PA)
- Golden Zucchini (Lancaster, PA)
- Costata Romanesca (Lancaster, PA)
- Lacinato Kale (Long Island, NY)
- Baby Leeks (Lancaster, PA)
- Tomatillos (Lancaster, PA)
- Poblano Peppers (Lancaster, PA)
- Sweet and Spicy Pepper variety from NY and PA
Don’t forget the yellow seedless watermelon (mentioned in Time Out NY)!