Black Smoke: African Americans and the United States of Barbecue

Univ. of North Carolina. Apr. 2021. 328p. ISBN 9781469662800. $30. COOKING
Who created barbecue? What makes it authentic? Who gets to write the history of this iconic American cuisine? James Beard Book Award winner Miller (Soul Food) explores the role of Black Americans in barbecue’s complex cultural history. He writes that barbecue has long been an important way to build community, and that the cuisine’s foundations in marginalized communities have long been obscured, including the innovative techniques and ur-barbecue of Indigenous peoples in the Americas. Miller shows how Indigenous forms of barbecue in the Americas were received and absorbed by white colonial settlers, and how, in the southern United States, Black Americans have been the keepers of the barbecue flame, throughout the eras of slavery, Jim Crow, and the Great Migration. Miller also seeks out and showcases generations of pitmasters who are still at work; he highlights individuals from different U.S. geographic areas and different traditions of barbecue.
VERDICT This enjoyable book, which includes more than 20 recipes, is a must for serious barbecue scholars and a solid choice for any food historian.
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