Barbecue in South Carolina is a story of struggle, interdependence, joy, and improvisation. It’s about people, shared traditions, and a sense of place. To understand barbecue history in the Palmetto State is to acknowledge the contributions of multiple traditions – African, Native American, and European. Once separate streams, these traditions flowed together early in our history to form the mighty river that is South Carolina slow-cooked pork. The more time I spend around piles of felled hardwood, smoke-stained cook sheds, and cast iron hash pots, one thing is clear – barbecue is not a tradition to be romanticized. Enjoyed now as comfort food, barbecue has roots in a culture of improvisation and survival. For hundreds of years, slow-cooked whole hog was a way for people to prepare an available staple. Well into the twentieth century, rural farmers cooked hogs for supplemental income and communities frequently pooled resources to fire up a pot of hogshead or beef hash.
Published in Edible Lowcountry, Volume 1, Issue 3, Fall 2006, pages 35-38.