It's Barbecue Week, and with that comes days of content focused on one of our finest culinary traditions. "Barbecue" evokes different ideas for different people in different regions — and enthusiasts have strong feelings about what the word means — but regardless of the definition, it inherently involves community. Good barbecue is created by several people over several hours. It's pitmasters prepping rubs and fire at 3 a.m. so that the meat's done by the lunch rush. But it's also a group of friends huddled around a backyard smoker, biding their time with an array of side dishes and beer; it's the temporary camaraderie formed by strangers waiting in the same hours-long line for the country's best brisket. It's an official clubhouse of certified judges and competitors dedicated to celebrating the best treatment of meat; it's the online cacophony of voices trading their tips about their favorite smoke shacks (or debating which ones are the best to begin with). The communal nature of barbecue may have originated from cooks, then diners gathering around a very large hunk of meat, but today, it's so much more.
Here on Eater.com, expect to get everything from interactive maps to reported stories on all aspects of smoked meat and barbecue culture. And on Eater city sites, look for maps, photo essays, and guides to regional styles and the best local spots. Whatever the word means to you, we hope you'll stick around.
Got a singular definition of "barbecue"? Leave it in the comments.
Watch: How to build the perfect tray of meat