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A method of cooking out of doors over charcoal or wood, giving a smoky flavour.

For many years it was thought that the word was derived from the French phrase "barbe á queue" (spitted from beard to tail); but modern opinion now thinks it"s more likely to have come via the Spanish "barbacoa" or the French "babract". These in turn are adaptations of the Taino ans Arawak languages of Haiti and Guiana. It is known that the native Indians of these Caribbean countries constructed frameworks of sticks to support meat above a fire.

"Real" barbecuing (such as that practiced in the American South-East) is a method of cooking, whereby the food is slowly cooked at gentle temperatures in moist hardwood smoke. The temperature range should be between170-250 degrees fahrenheit. The cooker must be covered to maintain moisture - the food often not being in direct contact with the heat source.

The type of wood used for this method of 'real' barbecuing is also important, fresh apple being considered the best - or as a substitute, oak soaked in apple juice. Charcoal would be a no-no.

If you enjoy cooking take a minute to look at ‘Simon Scrutton Cookery Classes’ on Google – and learn how to make top class bistro-style dishes. Suitable for beginners upwards.

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