How BBQ Transcends Race

Ed Mitchell is a renowned pitmaster in Raleigh, North Carolina. He owns a restaurant in Durham called Que. Mitchell can be considered not only a barbecue connoisseur but also a historian of the craft. Michael Pollan, the best-selling author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and his latest Cooked: A History of Natural Transformation, met Michell during his Southern odyssey in search for the purist barbecue in the world.

He described a mural that Mitchell had in his restaurant that tells the story of the history of barbecue. In the clip of Big Think’s interview, Pollan gives a glimpse of that history, explaining how slaves from the Caribbean brought it to America, including the hot red pepper.  As for those famous three letters, BBQ, Pollan explains: “Barbacoa is what they thought they were hearing in the Caribbean and that became barbecue. So it was a black contribution to southern American culture.”

It’s now more than a Southern staple: it also breaks down race divisions. As Mitchell explained to Pollan, barbecue transcends race. Pollan checked on this claim with a barbecue historian. Yes, a barbecue historian.

“When I was talking to historians of barbecue, and we now have historians of barbecue, they said that even during the tensest periods of racial strife, during the civil rights movement, if the good barbecue place in town was black, whites wanted to eat there and they would,” he says. “Barbecue is something that blacks and whites in the South share.”

For more stories and great insights from Pollan’s barbecue quest, watch this clip from Big Think’s interview:

Big Think Edge
  • The meaning of the word 'confidence' seems obvious. But it's not the same as self-esteem.
  • Confidence isn't just a feeling on your inside. It comes from taking action in the world.
  • Join Big Think Edge today and learn how to achieve more confidence when and where it really matters.

To boost your self-esteem, write about chapters of your life

If you're lacking confidence and feel like you could benefit from an ego boost, try writing your life story.

Personal Growth

In truth, so much of what happens to us in life is random – we are pawns at the mercy of Lady Luck. To take ownership of our experiences and exert a feeling of control over our future, we tell stories about ourselves that weave meaning and continuity into our personal identity.

Keep reading Show less

Active ingredient in Roundup found in 95% of studied beers and wines

The controversial herbicide is everywhere, apparently.

Surprising Science
  • U.S. PIRG tested 20 beers and wines, including organics, and found Roundup's active ingredient in almost all of them.
  • A jury on August 2018 awarded a non-Hodgkin's lymphoma victim $289 million in Roundup damages.
  • Bayer/Monsanto says Roundup is totally safe. Others disagree.
Keep reading Show less
  • Prejudice is typically perpetrated against 'the other', i.e. a group outside our own.
  • But ageism is prejudice against ourselves — at least, the people we will (hopefully!) become.
  • Different generations needs to cooperate now more than ever to solve global problems.