What follows is just the kind of good, informative newspaper story we all want to read at this time of year:
What Is A Barbecue?
"To many of the people who attended last Saturday’s jubilee a barbecue was a new thing, and so many questions were asked that a description of this institution will not be out of place here.
Many people had a hazily defined notion that it was either something to drink or a wholesale hair-cutting, but such impressions are erroneous. The dictionary says: “Barbecue—a social gathering in the open air at which an ox, etc., is roasted whole.”
This is how it is done: A Pit is dug to the depth of about three or four feet and the same in width, the length depending on the number of beeves to be roasted, in which is built a roaring wood fire, preferably of hard wood, which burns till it is reduced to a big bed of glowing coals, after which the beef, quartered and having iron bars thrust through it, is suspended from a frame, hanging a couple of feet or so above the coals and allowed to roast, being frequently turned in order that all parts may be uniformly cooked.
But before hanging the beef the “dope” with which to baste it during the roasting process, must be prepared and here is where horse sense and good judgment come in to play. Jim Gross compounded this all-important mixture Friday night, and he used salt, water, an iron kettle, pepper, lard, water, and thirteen other different ingredients, which he refused to divulge. The mixture must be stirred with a paddle made from the heart of a black oak tree which grows in a corner of a churchyard where the sun never shines, and the mixer must chant some weird incantation over the seething pot. If he should be the possessor of the left hind foot of a graveyard rabbit, it is supposed to lend a peculiar virtue to the midnight culinary operations.
The “dope” having been properly mixed it is placed in buckets within convenient reach of the roast, and each time a quarter is turned a man swats it with a rag attached to a long stick, the rag being saturated with the solution. The process of turning and basting is kept up all night, until the meat is pronounced done.
With regard to the manner of eating barbecue grub, each one is allowed to follow the dictates of their own conscience. If Sol. Miller in the crowd, he would be allowed to eat pie with a knife and be in no danger of reproof from such carping critics as the society editor of the Topeka Lance, as here table etiquette of any kind goes. It would probably worry Ward McAllister’s 400 a little, but if they ever attend a barbecue of ours they will be treated white.
For the benefit of those who have never barbecued, we append a few general rules, which may come in handy when some of our readers feel impelled to take one in:
1. Wear your other clothes.
2. Get there when the beef does and stay all night.
3. Tuck up your sleeves.
4. Take a piece of beef in one hand, bread in the other, and take a bite of each, in alternation, occasionally washing it down with a drink of coffee, which will be furnished without extra charge.
5. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
6. Chew each mouthful three-quarters of a minute before swallowing it, as after mature reflection you may not want to swallow it.
7. After finishing, wipe your hands on a handful of sunflower leaves, and come away feeling happy."
Here is the kicker: the above story is courtesy the Alton Empire newspaper of Alton, Kansas – of October 27, 1892!