Let’s talk BBQ
At Caldwell County BBQ restaurant, we serve many customers Texas-style BBQ and other scrumptious, delectable victuals from our offset smoker. Men, women, and children of all ages love to chow down on our 100% wood-smoked barbeque. Everyone has their favorite. Some love our prime brisket, and others pulled pork or St. Louis pork ribs.
Then there are the hard-core BBQ fanatics. Now women love BBQ, but it seems that most often, the ones that really get excited about cooking with fire and smoke are men. What is it about BBQ that gets so many men fired up?
Some men can be useless when it comes to aiding their wives in the kitchen, but say the word “BBQ,” and something primitive stirs. Filled with pride, they will grab a pair of tongs and head out to the backyard jungle to prove their barbeque mastery.
Fire and meat – primal rituals going back to the dawn of man
The earliest hominids from which modern humans derived lived on earth more than four million years ago. Initially, these primitive humans were similar to other animals, but they began to differentiate from the other animal kingdom creatures throughout millions of years.
Their high cognitive ability allowed these early hominids to create rustic tools that shaped the world around them, beginning with flakes of rock. With sharp flakes of rock, they could make the first tools and the first weapons like clubs, axes, spears, and arrows.
These sharp weapons allowed primitive men to hunt and kill large animals and butcher them. The earliest evidence for hunting with spear points dates back to about 500,000 years ago.
But none of these had as much impact as the control of fire. Man was already aware of fire as natural phenomena like lightning or erupting volcanoes would ignite natural fires. But everything changed when the first man mastered the technique needed to create fire.
Cooked vs. raw food
Without fire, these early humans had to subsist on a raw diet. Animals can live on raw food, and humans are animals, so humans can also. The problem is raw food takes more energy to digest. Cooking made it easier for early humans to digest food and gain the calories they needed to nourish their large brains.
Cooking denatures and gelatinizes protein and starch and softens it. As a result, cooking considerably increases the amount of energy we get from food. Another benefit and an important one is cooking meat kills pathogens and parasites that frequently invade meat products.
Cooked food makes food safer, reduces spoilage, creates rich and delicious tastes, and allows us to open, cut, or mash tough foods. These features would greatly benefit early humans who didn’t have all our modern utensils and appliances, who had to rely on rock flakes.
The control of fire changed the lives of primitive men. Fire was necessary to chase away predators, to protect from cold temperatures and darkness, and – of course – to prepare food.
This new habit of roasting and cooking animal meat allowed humans to access new protein sources central to their neurological development. The consumption of cooked meat and animal fat are thought to be central to the development of modern humans’ large brains.
The mastery of fire was the most significant turning point in human history. If humans had not learned to harness fire, the world as we know it wouldn’t exist. It is the use of fire that makes human beings what they are and distinguishes us from animals. And most importantly, without fire, we wouldn’t have Caldwell County Texas-style BBQ!
The meat of the matter
Meat has been a part of the human diet at least as early as 2.5 million years ago, so we have a very long history of eating meat engrained in our makeup. This meat would be eaten raw as barbequing wasn’t invented yet. Hard to chew and hard to digest, raw meat is not very appetizing. Modern times some beef is eaten raw as in “steak tartare” or raw fish in sushi or raw oysters, yum!
Evidence of wood ash traces as the controlled use of fire by Homo erectus shows humans started using fire some 1,000,000 years ago. So, we can estimate that the tradition of BBQ and pitmasters has been going on for at least a million years.
No wonder the smell of smoke and the taste of perfectly cooked tender and moist brisket from an offset smoker drives people wild. No wonder men will head out to the backyard with tongs in hand at the mere mention of the word barbeque. It is ingrained in our genes, stirring a primal reaction that says. “light up that fire, and throw on some meat!”
There is a strong association of meat with masculinity. The reason may be that meat has nutritional benefits for adult men. Creatin, for example, a compound involved in energy for muscular contraction, naturally occurs only in meat. Creatin improves muscular strength, size, and physical and performance.
Meat also has a more complete profile of amino acids than plant-based proteins do. Proteins from meat increase muscle growth and bone density. Because of men’s greater propensity for risk-taking and physical violence, bone density gives protection against fractures and other injuries.
Meat, gender, and lady pitmasters
The relation between meat and gender has been there since ancient humans first began eating animals regularly. Eating meat influenced the structuring of gender roles. Men, generally being bigger and stronger, were the ones that hunted large game to get meat.
However, it was the women, and we can see this in modern hunter-gatherer tribes, who did the cooking, supplementing the meal with foods they gathered. So, what is going on here? It was supposed to be the men who are the pitmasters, fanatics about cooking with fire and the BBQ!
Maybe it’s just because men love meat, and they get fired up when thinking about sinking their fangs into that choice hunk of smoked meat oozing with juicy tenderness. Somehow modern society has the idea that the BBQ smoker job is for men.
There are plenty of lady pitmasters tending an offset smoker known for their BBQ skills. Names like pitmaster Tootsie Tomanetz of Snow’s BBQ, Elizabeth Karmel executive chef at Hill Country Barbecue Market, or Helen Turner Pitmaster at Helen’s Bar-B-Q in Brownsville, TN, come to mind.
So, if all this talk about BBQ has got you fired up for some of Caldwell County’s Texas-style BBQ, why don’t you come to our Gilbert restaurant now! There you can join in the very ancient tradition of your ancestors with fire and meat-eating.