By Robert F. Moss
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Extra info for Barbecue: The History of an American Institution
In the South, the actual work was usually per- formed by slaves. In some cases white men supervised the pits, but just as frequently an older slave would be recognized as the area’s barbecue master, and he would oversee the entire cooking operation. Pots of basting liquid—usually melted butter, vinegar, and/ or water along with salt and pepper—were kept along the trench, and the cooks would move up and down either side, basting the meat with long-handled brushes. The whole carcasses had to be lifted periodically and turned over, and a small pit of hardwood was kept burning off to the side to supply fresh coals, which were shoveled into the trenches to ensure a constant source of slow, steady heat.
Military service was one route to distinction, as was success in farming and business. ”14 Equally im- portant were virtues such as hunting skill, joviality, and the ability to make good stump speeches, which would be demonstrated in the weeks before an election at public barbecues. In his first campaign for the Tennessee legislature in 1821, Crockett made up for his lack of political experience by making a series of folksy speeches at events such as a squirrel hunt barbecue (see page 37), and he won his first seat in public o ffice.
Richardson attended a local horse race in March 1773 and described it in a letter to his wife, who was still living in Charleston: First then suppose us in the midst of a new ploughed field, the Wind blowing excessively hard, clouds of dust arising every [torn] & [a] Quarter of Beef Barbacuing in this dust and nicely browned indeed, but not with the fire, Three planks laid a Cross some sticks for a Table, this elegant table covered, not with damask or diaper, I would not have you think, [illegible] to your self two superb Oznabrigs sheets (not white) no!