Do the Brits and the French eat BBQ?


"BBQ Pitmasters is an American reality television series which follows barbecue cooks as they compete for cash and prizes in barbecue cooking competitions.

The series premiered on TLC on December 3, 2009. The eight-episode first season was filmed in a docu-reality format as it followed several competing BBQ teams around the country to various BBQ contests.

Season two premiered on August 12, 2010 at 10 pm EDT featuring a completely new competition game show-based format.[1] Each week, four teams competed against each other. Challenges included common protein and more exotic meat. Weekly winners faced off against each other in the second season finale as they vied for $100,000 and the Kingsford Cup. The judges for the second season were Myron Mixon, Art Smith, and Warren Sapp.[2] Kevin Roberts served as host.   wiki


Is this show seen in the UK and France?

American BBQ is meat (to include fowl and seafood) smoked slowly for a long time, carefully judging the time, temperature (normally low) and seasonings.  Cooking like this is an art, developed over centuries to cope with tough meat like beef brisket, beef shoulder clod and whole hogs if necessary.

This is quite a different style of cooking than "grilling."  "Light the fires, and kick the tires."

Is this program available overseas and has American BBQ caught on?  pl

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43 Responses to Do the Brits and the French eat BBQ?

  1. JP Billen says:

    Didn’t it start in the Caribbean? Lots of Jamaicans in England.

  2. turcopolier says:

    JP Billen
    IMO Caribbean barbacoa is quite different. It is fully developed in things like “jerk” chicken. US BBQ is derived from methods of smoking meat to preserve it in the absence of refrigeration and to tenderize tough parts of the animal It is largely IMO of Scotch-Irish derivation originally in Appalachia and then spreading across the South and West. Have you ever smoked a brisket or ribs? Have you ever watch
    BBQ pitmasters?”

  3. Doing Beef Back Ribs tomorrow with Jack Daniels BBQ sauce (I also do my Friend Mr. Daniels in purely liquid sour mash form) and french fries (curly). Two things the United States beats the world pants down hands down:
    1. Breakfast: hash browns, sunny side-up eggs and incredible variety of meats from bacon to chicken fried stakes. Nothing, I mean, nothing comes even close.
    2. BBQ. Meats, especially beef. American meat cuisine is the best in the world, period.
    P.S. Ivar’s Clam Chowder is another thing but I feel New England rage coming up, so, I’ll shut up.

  4. Meat, especially pig, was hung in the rafters to smoke in my great-grandmother’s Lithuanian house. This was probably close to American BBQ. The house was a thatched roof log cabin without any kind of chimney or vent. The smoke from the cooking and warming fires slow cooked/smoked the meats and drove the insects out of the thatch. I have no idea if this was common in other parts of Europe. My grandfather did a similar thing in a shack behind our barn in Connecticut. A neighboring Lithuanian family had a stone smokehouse on their farm which was in regular use.
    The best BBQ I’ve had locally is at ZZQ in Richmond. It’s quickly gained a national reputation for its Texas style BBQ. My younger son and I stop there whenever I’m in town. I would never put sauce on their meat. It’s just too good in its unadulterated state. Not only is their brisket spectacular, but their hot gut sausage will put you into a shamanic ecstasy.

  5. Factotum says:

    Mo’s in Pismo Beach, CA – “Mo’s knows BBQ. But he don’t know fish and he don’t know chowda.” Make it a mandatory stop on Highway 101 (merges with the famous Hwy 1 here) when cruising SF to LA.

  6. William RAISER says:

    I don’t watch TV here in France, but I doubt the show has made it here. You can find a little BBQ here but not much. The French who have eaten it like it. My wife (very French) loves BBQ ribs and always searches them out when we visit in the US.

  7. Andrei, I’d like to add to your thoughts about breakfast. I always looked forward to breakfast in the field in the 25th Infantry Division. Served out of mermite field containers, I’d have a big plate of scrambled eggs, hash browns and SOS (chipped beef in well peppered white gravy on plain old white bread toast). I’d mix it all together. Our company mess sergeant took pride in mixing in enough real eggs with the powdered eggs to eliminate the green tone of pure powdered eggs.

  8. MP98 says:

    Only country comes close is Canada.

  9. johnf says:

    The British do barbecue but it tends to be a pretty basic and unappetizing piece of speed searing. I should imagine the French regard it (probably quite correctly) as yet another example of Anglo-Saxon barbarism. The Australians are meant to be good at it. (I think the weather plays a fairly big factor in barbecuing. British barbecues are notorious for getting swept away in floods of rainwater).
    I love slow cooking of meat, but do it in the slow oven of my Aga. I also like pretty simple food which I’ve either grown for myself or hunted or foraged for. Great ceps last week!

  10. confusedponderer says:

    maybe it’s a baltic nation thing. My father came from east prussia, not that far away, and smoking meat was not something I have never heard of from him or my grandmother. They had a farm, with a colonian wares shop and a bar on the farm. Also didn’t find such things in an east prussian cookbook.
    What I heard from my grandma about cooking was more pragmatic: When unexpected guests came a farmhand was send to the fishlake near the house to catch a fish, which then was prepared and served for dinner.
    And then there were of course local traditions like Königsberger Klopse and, of course, matjes (the east prussian way – potatoes, onions, salt and butter – is closer to dutch than swedish).
    She also told me that pikes are tasty – but rather nasty even after being caught – one of them, in a late act after being caught, wrapped itself around the forearm of a farmhand, badly bruising it.

  11. Lars says:

    I have several relatives in Sweden that now BBQ regularly. This is something they learned when visiting me in Florida. I learned by being on a team that won a National contest in Sebring, FL many years ago. I have an Oklahoma Joe “beast” on my pool deck that I use quite often.
    I do agree that it is more art than science and the main ingredient is patience. There are no shortcuts to good BBQ.

  12. CK says:

    And now you have done it. War clouds are shimmering over SST, the imprecations of the various troops of Q partisans are rumbling as they bring their long skewers out of the cabinet, re-oil their pit mops and hone their long skinners and their oriental cleavers.
    Oh the humanity. Will no one rid us of this troublesome food?

  13. Bill Hatch says:

    I grew up with the whole hawg BBQ tradition of eastern Carolina. In the mid-1980’s I had a coworker who was a Texas Aggie whose annual event was a bull roast. I asked him how he’d master the skill of roasting a whole steer. He said that as a college student his fraternity sponsored an annual “bull roast.” He volunteered to help the pit master who was an old black lady. Once they had the bull on the spit & the coals hot, she opened a cooler that contained 2 cases of beer. She opened 2 beers & gave him one and told him, “Every hour we have a beer. When the beer’s gone, the bull is done.”

  14. turcopolier says:

    A few observations 1, There is smoking of hanging meats as carried out in thousands of American farm smokehouses. This is a process that can take months (the longer the better) 2. Then there is barbecue which is smoking meat while cooking it slowly at low temperatures (200 F to 275 f) BTW I grilled a splendid piece of halibut last night, Salt and pepperand olive oil. That is all that was needed.

  15. turcopolier says:

    Searing (grilling)is not barbecue. the French practice the art of “meshwi” (grilling in Arabic). They learned this in N. Africa and it expresses itself most fully in a whole yearling sheep rotisseried in the back garden.

  16. turcopolier says:

    I always loved b’fast in the field. What could be better than standing around with your people eating scrambled eggs with cubed up bacon in it from a mess tin while cold snow goes down the back of your shirt and/or into the food?

  17. Eric Newhill says:

    When I was learning to speak French, I was told that BBQ was derived from the French slang for slow roasting – “La barbe a la queue” – “from the beard to the tail”. The French would run the skewer from the goat’s mouth (the beard) all the way through to the tail and then slowing turn the goat over a fire covered in various herbs and seasonings.

  18. JP Billen says:

    I do love brisket with ranch beans and slaw. Have not watched BBQ Pitmasters but will check it out for a brisket episode. I’m also partial to Carolina style pork BBQ. None of that sugared up red sauce, just a thin vinegar infused with peppers, whole or flaked or both.

  19. JP Billen says:

    Andrei & Factotum,
    None of that nasty cream-based clam chowder is any good, no matter whether it’s from NE or the west coast. And the Manhattan variety is overrated also. Best clam chowder I ever had was on Carolina’s Outer Banks: no cream and no tomatoes, just clams and veggies in a clear clam broth with spices. My bride asked the restaurant cook what the spices were, he just laughed and said “a little bit of sand is what we use”. She, my bride, later figured it out that the clam broth was probably simmered along with a bag of ‘crab boil’ maybe Zatarain’s or a local version. The trick is to add the clams while still in the shell at the last after the vegs were done. Otherwise the clams get overcooked and turn into a tough chewing gum like what they serve in those cream-based chowders.

  20. nick webley says:

    Yes there is a thriving British bbq scene. This last weekend there was Meatopia event imported from USA. There are many British BBQ teams competing in KCBS competitions, Bunch of Swines won Grand Champion in USA Masters bbq competition and there are KCBS rules competitions in Holland every year that attract teams from all over Europe.
    Lastly 2 UK BBQ Facebook groups, Countrywoodsmoke UK Bbq and British BBQ.

  21. JMH says:

    And to have the front fender of a deuce and a half as a table for the canteen cup of hot coffee.

  22. Fred says:

    Sounds like a new restaurant opportunity for a French entrepenuer or daring expat.

  23. Jack says:

    I’ve used a wood burning offset smoker for a long while with great results. I personally prefer a dry rub with sauces for dipping. I’ve also used a cookbox that my son made which uses the “luau” principle of a convection oven with the charcoal on a grate above the closed cookbox. That’s good for cooking a suckling pig or a goat when you don’t want the smoke flavor. I like it better than a spit as it retains the moisture in the meat. The animal is butterflied and sandwiched between two grills over a cook pan for the dripping and cooked in the box.
    Like jazz and bluegrass I believe bbq is quintessential America.

  24. turcopolier says:

    fred Reminds me of the time I told a Jerusalem Arab with an Irish wife and an Irish passport that he should move permanently and become the Shawarma King of all Ireland.

  25. turcopolier says:

    JP Billen
    Have you tried Famous Dave’s three miles south of town on Jeff Davis Highway? Might be too sweet for you but much better than Myron Mixon’s place in town where Ecco (sigh) used to be. I still yearn for Ecco’s canelloni

  26. Fred says:

    My BBQ is better than my French……

  27. turcopolier says:

    Mine are both pretty good.

  28. JJackson says:

    I live in an old terraced cottage which originally had a brick outside privy in the days before indoor plumbing which I converted into a smokehouse which I mainly use for smoked salmon, bacon and smoked sausages like chorizo. It has an inner brick oven which can be used for hot smoking and occasional bread baking.
    The story I would like to tell you is of a sureal day in November 1977. I was sailing around South America making a program for the BBC called ‘The Voyage of Beagle’. On the the leg form the UK to Rio I had an Argentinian friend in my watch called Maxi who was from a very wealthy family and sadly could not go on Argentina with us as he was a kindnap and ransom target. However when we were in Mar Del Plata his family invited us all out for the day.
    A fleet of cars turned up at the key and we were driven for a couple of hours out into the flat and treeless pampa when we turned off the paved road into their estancia after about 30 mins we saw trees lots of enormous mature cedars and oaks which looked completely out of place in the grassland in the middle of which was a massive old house. They had laid out a banqueting table for about 30 people under the trees complete with white table cloths and silverware. Lunch was basically a the rib section of one of their Aberdeen Angus cattle slow cooked over a small fire pit. The beef had two metal rods a couple of meters long driven through it and then into the ground so the carcase was angled over the fire from which the gauchos sliced of the hunk you wanted with their unbelievable sharp carbon steel knives and just fell off on to the plate. It was served with an very good Argentinan Cabernet Sauvignon bottled for the Aberdeen Angus breededs association. The gauchos then put on a demonstration of horse breaking and provide us all with horses on which to explore the area before driving us back to the ship. I have been lucky enough to experiance many very memorable days but this ranks right up with the best of them. The beef was amazing.
    I got rid of the TV about ten years ago so do not know if the have Pitmasters in the UK but I have watched it, or something vary similar, on Youtube.

  29. catherine says:

    ”I’m also partial to Carolina style pork BBQ.””
    Me too. Every Fall at our quarterly family reunions at the old family farm we have a whole bbq’ed hog. The crew that does it sets up early morning and lightly mops it as it cooks with vinegar and some other ingredient, I forget what. It results in a tender not overly juicy meat without the horrible drippy thick bbq sauce so many use. The crispy skin and the ribs are to die for. The rest is chopped up but not shredded to pieces like you get in restaurants.

  30. JP Billen says:

    I’ll try it. Is that the original before he went national?

  31. Cortes says:

    The best barbecues are, of course, from the deepest South…
    Retreats hastily to what he hopes is the sufficiently fortified bunker…
    Morcilla (black = blood pudding) and chorizo (qv) and chicken as well as bife…

  32. The best part of our family road trips (and we do not fly within the US), especially in I-5 corridor down to L.A. and then onto Phoenix, or I-90 eastward, is always, ahem, Denny’s, Black bear Diners and IHOPs at breakfast. It is something ritualisti8c in that and nothing beats experience in a small town, USA. That is why I have issues whenever traveling in Canada–for all stunning beauty of B.C. or Alberta–they are not big on chicken fried steaks.

  33. Brisket! Just recalling and writing about it makes me choke on saliva. The best one I ever ate was in 2013 in Flagstaff, AZ at the parking lot of Safeway, where father and son rolled their smoker and a food truck–it was divine.

  34. different clue says:

    My all-around food-experience is more limited than that of many here. Still . . . while I have had several “equally-best” all-around beef experiences in several places, the one beef experience I remember as being best in the narrower category of taste in/of the meat was at a restaurant called the Hickory House in La Junta, Colorado.
    I was visiting my brother while he was there for a while, and we went to the Hickory House for lunch. I had beef, Texas toast and a bowl of red beans.
    Even just reading the menu showed how seriously the restaurant took beef.
    IT gave a description of what the various words for level-of-doneness meant to them in their restaurant. It said that while they would cook your beef however you wanted, they themselves would recommend a specific setting ( I forget now the name for that setting). So I ordered it the way they recommended it. This was in 1996.
    I was going to offer a website for the Hickory House ( and its menu) in La Junta but the entry said “this restaurant is closed” as in out-of-bussiness. But I see a Hickory House referred to in Lamar, Colorado. Was/is Hickory House a small chain? Is this its new stand-alone home?
    I don’t know. So here is the link to this other “Hickory House” in Lamar, Colorado. But I have no idea what one would find there.
    And here is a “Facebook page” for that same Hickory House in Lamar.
    A lot of people like to photograph their food nowadays.
    Here is a picture of people with menus. Its been a long time, but the menu somehow looks familiar to me.

  35. different clue says:

    Now that I have read that nasty cream-based clam chowder is no good, I can only say I like it anyway. Lifelong habit, perhaps.
    My first childhood experience of New England clam chowder was Campbell’s from the can. I liked that. More recently down the years I try N E clam chowder in different restaurants just to see. I liked best the clam chowder I have had in Captain now-who-was-it restaurant somewhere on Cape Cod.
    The problem of tough chewing gum clams piece like what they serve in those cream-based chowders could be solved with some experiments with adding the clams still in the shell toward the end of the N E clam chowder’s cooking cycle. See just where they would get the same clam results as what that place on Carolina’s Outer Banks gets by putting its in-the-shell clams in after the vegs are cooked.

  36. different clue says:

    My bbq experience is very limited. I have had it a few times and have never tried to make any. I have read about it more than anything else. The best of not-very-many barbecues I had was in South West Colorado from a barrel-smoker-on-wheels operator by the side of the road. We stopped and had some. I had pulled pork.
    It had enough tastes and flavors at work that I won’t try describing it.

  37. Harry says:

    Barbaque has come to London recently. The hipsters brought it over. I really dont recall it before. But we have plenty of Ottoman style grilled meats. I do jamaican style pork shoulder myself (jerk) which is a similar technique but different seasonings.

  38. turcopolier says:

    there is good “Q” and not so good “Q.” Is London “Q” good? Ottoman grilled meats are good but they are not “Q.” Jamaican food is not “Q.”

  39. Philippe says:

    According to the Trésor de la Langue Francaise :
    The french “Boucanier” (Buccaneer) came from Boucan, a wooden grill used by natives in South America and Carribean to smoke and preserve fish and meat.
    Boucan itself is a deformation of the Tuyi word (m/b)okaém;s=350963385;r=3;nat=;sol=0;

  40. JP Billen says:

    A thousand pardons different clue, no offense meant. My bride is a New Englander. She tells a story of when she was a child visiting her grandmother out on Cape Ann. Her grandma used to give here and her sister a few clams or an oyster in a cup of warm milk. No veggies, no flour thickeners like nine out of ten restaurants use in their chowder. The only thing added was a small pat of butter. She still remembers it fondly.
    She also liked chowder Portuguese style with small chunks of Linguica sausage to balance the clams.

  41. different clue says:

    No offense taken. No pardons necessary. Still, thank you for the kind words.
    Food is one of the most funnest things there is to have recreational arguments over. It reminds me of the good-natured ( I hope) dispute over which of many styles of barbecue is The Best. To me saying that Carolina Barbecue is better than Texas Barbecue or Texas Barbecue is better than Carolina Barbecue is like saying that Football is better than Baseball or Baseball is better than Football.
    They are different. How can either one be “better”? They are both enjoyable on their own terms. ( Of course, since I am deeply ignorant of the inner details of barbecue, that might just reveal the ignorance-based nature of my feeling on the subject).
    I have always wondered if flour was used to thicken some N E clam chowders . . . as thick as they are. Perhaps the concept of neat clean pure N E clam chowder should be based on that tenth restaurant which does not use flour or any other thickener in its chowder. And if that tenth restaurant were to put its clams still in the shell into the cooking chowder as late in the process as feasibly possible, then we could have a head-to-head comparison between that non-thickened clams-at-the-last-moment N E chowder and the other styles of chowder.
    On rare occasional visits to our uncle and aunt ( and now just our uncle) on Cape Cod, we have gone to a locally famous restaurant in Provincetown whose name I forget. I have had the Portuguese Kale soup among other things each time I go, to form and maintain the memory in case I ever try growing the right kind of kale here to then make a soup with it.

  42. different clue says:

    I have been thinking off-and-on over the past couple years about how one might do real barbecue more fuel-efficiently than today, in order to get ready for the firewood and charcoal shortages starting 10-30 years from now.
    If I were smarter than I am, I could make this comment shorter than I am able to make it. If it ends up being enough more interesting-than-boring so as to deserve being published, perhaps some pit design engineers might read it and decide whether these are worthwhile ideas or not.
    Since I have never done barbecue I don’t know barbecue. I have tried to learn something “about” barbecue by reading “about” barbecue. And I believe I have grasped the basic fact that it involves long low slow exposure of the meat to indirect heat ( some combination of heat in the enclosed “surrounding smoky air” itself around the meat and also infra-red radiation from the fire/coals to the meat.).
    I looked at bunches of pictures of “barbecue pits” on the image-function of the yahoo search engine. All the pictures I saw came to mainly three types . . . drum/barrel smoker-enabled or fancy open top grill machine or heavy masonry “pit”. The drum-barrels and the open top grills offered two main ways to control the meat’s exposure to the heat . . . either a lateral swing-arm to move the meat horizontally towards or away from the heat . . .
    or a vertical turn-crank to raise the meat higher above the heat or lower down to the heat . . .
    These two design approaches make it seem easy enough to move the meat relative to the heat. And it seems to me that these two approaches “could” be designed for working in/with a drum-barrel just as well as with an open top grill. If that is so, then the drum-barrel could be “double-hulled” with a layer of fire-proof highly-insulating crushed and flaked and fine-packed heat-obstructing mineral like perlite or vermiculite or both mixed . . .in the space between the “inner” and “outer” hull-layers of metal shaped into being the drum or barrel body and also the door. If it could really work the way I hope, it “should” be so heat-retentive that much-less fuel would be needed to maintain the same internal heat as with the non-insulated( I assume) drum-barrels of today.
    The heavy masonry pit designs “could” have these two systems for moving the meat around the heat, but I didn’t see any such in any of the pictures. It looked like the master has to move the meat around the hard way, by hand with tongs. And they look either open-front or open-top.
    What if they could be fitted with a double-hull-insulated door or a lid for heat-retention while closed and opened for looking and adjusting the meat? Would the mass of masonry absorb enough heat from the fire to re-release it slowly back at the meat so that after initial masonry heat-up, much less fuel would be needed to maintain the closable masonry pit interior at needed heat?
    And if so, could the pit and the traditional Northern European masonry stove for home-heating be combined into an even more fuel-efficient barbecue-specific masonry-heater pit?
    The masonry-heater concept is to burn a charge of wood as hot as possible and pass the hot exhaust gasses through a maze-way of winding brick flue-channels to dump all the heat into the brick before the exhaust finally leaves the heater. Then the heated mass of brick radiates its heat as infra-red radiation into the target room. Here is a schematic diagram of the hot gas dumping its heat into the brick of the maze-way.
    So, what if a smaller version of this were laid on its side as the “floor” of the pit, whose walls and top ( or door or lid) were built all around it? And if a thinner exterior “double hull” of masonry exactly surrounded the pit itself, with a strongly insulating layer of crushed-flaked vermiculite and/or perlite between the inner masonry body and the outer insulation-enclosing masonry layer? The pit could be heated by thorougly combusting as-hot-as-possible a charge of wood or charcoal which would dump all its heat into the brick floor of the enclosed pit . . . or half-the-floor at one end of the pit to allow the meat to be moved closer to or farther from the hot-masonry heat source. The meat could be cooked for hours on the fast-gained slow-released charge of heat from the initial fire.
    And if that could actually work, then there might be a way to burn even less fuel for still-just-as-much heat over time. And that would be to integrate a “rocket-stove” as the fire-chamber into the design. Rocket stove itself . . .
    Rocket stove fire chamber integrated into the mass heater . . .
    The combustion of the wood is supposed to be so complete and so high-temperature that even less wood would have to be burned to charge enough heat into the mass masonry to then be able to cook on that stored re-radiated and re-convected heat for many hours before needing to burn another charge of wood in the rocket-stove part.
    If these thoughts offer some real possibilities rather than just happy hopes, then barbecue may remain viable even in the teeth of brute undeniable firewood and charcoal shortages to come in the future.

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