TASTY TRAVELS: Barbecue in Northeast Mississippi

Barbecue. Barbecue. BBQ. Bar-B-Q. Bar-B-Que.
It’s spelled many different ways but it all means the same thing – some sort of delicious meat cooked in or on a grill.
It’s a cooking activity that is filled with testosterone and bragging rights. Men pride themselves in their barbecuing skills, in how big their grill is or in their secret sauce recipe.
The word “barbecue” comes from “barbacoa,” according to the National Barbecue Association. Barbacoa is a word from the Taíno people of the Caribbean and translates as “sacred fire pit.” The word describes a grill for cooking meat, consisting of a wooden platform resting on sticks.
Cookoffs are common throughout the South, with Memphis hosting the 2009 World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest last month. Hundreds of teams competed for the top honors.
In September, Oxford will host its third Oxford Town BBQ Throwdown where championship and amateur teams compete.
Everyone has an opinion about who has the best barbecue. And depending where you’re from, you have may have a different definition about what actually constitutes barbecue.
In the southeastern U.S., “barbecue” usually means pulled pork with sauce. According to the NBBQA, barbecue in Texas or the southwest usually is slow-smoked beef brisket with a very light sauce.
Barbecue continues to change by region, according to the NBBQA, moving toward a beef cut called a tri-tip in the western states such as California and barbecue pork ribs with heavy tomato base sauce in Kansas City.
Sauces also vary, with the South Carolina Barbeque Association breaking them down into four different types: vinegar and pepper, mustard, light tomato and heavy tomato.
According to the association, heavy tomato sauce, which is bottled under brands such as Kansas City Masterpiece and Kraft, is the most popular sauce in the country.
In Northeast Mississippi, diners are blessed with many barbecue options in various styles. You can get your ribs with a dry rub or dripping with sauce. You can find beef brisket or pulled pork sandwiches. Sauces vary from restaurant to restaurant as well.
No matter what you like, you’ll have a hard time going hungry in Northeast Mississippi if barbecue is on the menu.

Carlie Kollath/NEMS Daily Journal

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