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U.S. South and Midwest
In the southern United States, barbecues initially involved the cooking of pork. During the 19th century, pigs were a low-maintenance food source that could be released to forage in woodlands. When food or meat supplies were low, these semi-wild pigs could then be caught and eaten.
According to estimates, prior to the American Civil War, Southerners ate around five pounds (2.3 kg) of pork for every one pound (0.45 kg) of beef they consumed. Because of the effort to capture and cook these wild hogs, pig slaughtering became a time for celebration and the neighborhood would be invited to share in the largesse. In Cajun culture, these feats are called boucheries or “pig pickin’s”. The traditional Southern barbecue grew out of these gatherings.Each Southern locale has its own variety of barbecue, particularly sauces.
North Carolina sauces vary by region; eastern North Carolina uses a vinegar-based sauce, the center of the state uses Lexington-style barbecue, with a combination of ketchup and vinegar as their base, and western North Carolina uses a heavier ketchup base. Lexington calls itself “The Barbecue Capital of the World”; it has more than one BBQ restaurant per 1,000 residents. South Carolina is the only state that traditionally includes all four recognized barbecue sauces, including mustard-based, vinegar-based, and light and heavy tomato-based sauces.Memphis barbecue is best known for tomato- and vinegar-based sauces. in some Memphis establishments and in Kentucky, meat is rubbed with dry seasoning (dry rubs) and smoked over hickory wood without sauce. The finished barbecue is then served with barbecue sauce on the side.