10 Bizarre Moments in BBQ History
The whole world loves a BBQ, especially when it comes grilled on a gun, wrapped in bacon or served by a mannequin.
I recently spent a magical weekend at a buddy’s cottage, where I discovered that no one actually owns their own cottage, but that they all have friends who do. Aside from the swimming, boating, water-skiing, drinking, laughing, fireside chatting, mother nature connecting and acoustic guitar playing, my favourite part of the weekend was hands down the non-stop barbecuing. Literally every meal involved tossing some form of meat on the grill, whose billowing clouds of delicious smoke must have done to the creatures of the forest what KFC does to all humanoids within a nine block radius.
Which brings me to our last dinner of the weekend. For the first time in my life-a fact that my friends consider sacrilege and I consider shocking-I experienced a Beer Can Chicken. Also known as “Chicken on the Throne,” the meal involves stuffing the business end of a chicken (already dead of course) with an opened can of your favourite brewskie. You then place the whole situation inside your heated barbecue, where you let it cook for a few hours, as the delicious beer bubbles and soaks up into the meat of the chicken. Easily the strangest thing I’ve ever seen involving a barbecue, and easily the one thing I will request that no one does to my body after I’m gone. Over the last few days I’ve been searching for more strange recipes, but what I came up with was an even more interesting list of bizarre barbecue facts.
1. We cook, therefore we is smarter…
According to biological anthropologist and Harvard University Professor Richard Wrangham, cooking meat over an open flame is largely responsible for the evolution of the human brain. Roughly 1.6 million years ago there’s evidence that humans started cooking their meat with controlled fire. This is the same time when our species experienced a major advancement in the evolution and growth or our brains. Wrangham argues that much of the energy that used to help us consume difficult-to-digest raw foods became freed up to grow our brains, thanks to cooking which made protein much easier to digest. I knew it! I knew barbecuing made me smartest!
2. A grill by any other name, would still cook as sweet…
According to many language historians the word “barbecue” comes from barbacoa, used by the Taino people of the Caribbean, which translates to “sacred fire pit.” Those crazy Tainotians had the right idea, as barbecues are indeed sacred. The French have tried to claim the original use of the word, saying that when they visited the Caribbean, and they saw an entire pig being cooked over an open flame, they described the process as barbe à queue, meaning “from beard to tail.” The French clearly had no idea what they were talking about, as pigs don’t have beards but swine-staches.
3. The world’s most delicious camouflage…
This month marks the anniversary of the Wisconsin man who broke into a couple’s house, completely covered from head-to-toe in barbecue sauce (or from barbe à queue if you’re French). The husband held the saucy intruder at gunpoint until the cops arrived. The man claimed he was wearing “urban camouflage” to “hide from the government.” Now I’ve never been to Wisconsin, but I’d love to visit a place where you’d need to cover yourself in bbq sauce to blend in with your surroundings.
4. The world’s longest BBQ
In July 2008-while BBQ Sauce Man was breaking into Wisconsin basements-the Russians were cooking up a 335-foot storm. Using 250 skewers they cooked 500 sausages over the hot coals contained in the world’s longest barbecue. See images of the sausage party.
5. The world’s meatiest BBQ
Russia may have had the longest barbecue, but Uruguay had the most meat. In April 2008, chefs cooked up 12 tons of meat (30,000 pounds) to raise awareness about Uruguay’s delicious main dish. Over 20,000 people were on hand to eat up the promotion.
6. It’s the smell….
At the Coachella festival in California this April, British singer/songwriter Morrissey walked off the stage when the smell of barbecued burgers wafted into his vegetarian nostrils. “I can smell burning flesh… and I hope to God it’s human,” he told his human fans before he walked off in the middle of a song. He would eventually return, claiming “The smell of burning animals is making me sick. I just couldn’t bear it.” My question is whether or not he would have stayed on stage, had he discovered the smell was in fact human.
7. More than meets the eye…
From shopping carts to toilet bowls, people have made barbecues out of just about anything. They’ve even gone as far as to attach HEMI engines to them. Leave it to the Aussies to make the best photo gallery of weird but functional barbecues.
8. Smoked leg anyone?
When Shannon Whisnant bought his used barbecue smoker, the last thing he was expecting to find inside was John Wood’s leg. In 2004, Wood’s leg was amputated after it was damaged beyond repair in a plane crash. Ironically still attached to his leg, Wood decided to keep it. The limb was kept on ice until he was evicted from his home in Greenville, S.C., and forced to live in a van. His leg was then wrapped, placed inside a barbecue smoker, and put in storage. When rent payments were missed however, the storage facility owner held a garage sale, human leg-filled smoker and all. Recognizing the incredible business opportunity that came along with his new barbecue, Whisnant planned on adults paying $3 and children $1 to sneak a peak at the lost leg. North Carolina police stepped in and returned the leg to its original owner. Whether or not Wood now has a wooden leg is unknown.
9. Location, location, location… and a half-naked mannequin
The owner of a barbecue restaurant in Cincinnati was taken in front of a city Design Review Board for having a life-sized, scantily clad mannequin woman outside his store. Affectionately named BarBe Q, the plastic bombshell has increased sales by 40 perecent. After the first hearing, Kenny Tessel was told he could keep BarBe Q in front of his restaurant-as long as she is wearing more than just the bikini top and tight shorts that seemed to attract customers like moths to a lamp. Tessel appealed the case and won, so now BarBe Q can continue to wear her revealing outfit. Hard to tell what’s more embarrassing as a species: that city officials were offended by a mannequin or that a plastic woman increased restaurant sales.
10. Bacon can make you famous
Sometimes all you need to gain mass attention in this world is to sprinkle delicious bacon over Italian sausage, and then wrap the whole project in-yes, you guessed it-more bacon. The fine folks over at BBQADDICTS.com created the ultimate recipe for your barbecuing pleasure known famously around the world as the Bacon Explosion. Barbecue enthusiasts and Internet savvy inventors Jason Day and Aaron Chronister posted the recipe on their website on December 23, 2008. By Christmas day, their website was visited by over 27,000 people. It is arguably the most viral recipe of all time, having close to 400,000 visitors in less than half a year, earning 16,000 links from various websites, while being featured in The New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/28/dining/28bacon.html and the Telegraph, on CNN, Good Morning America, Fox and Friends. Since I’m throwing around lots of numbers with zeroes in them, it’s only fair to mention that the legendary log-o-bacon contains 5,000 calories and 500 grams of fat. But according to the recipe’s popularity-and when it comes to bacon-stuffed sausage-stuffed bacon-who really cares?