Americans love to bbq, and so do Germans. A hint of sun in the sky and the parks in Germany start filling up with friend groups, families, couples, everyone wants to grill some sausages, throw a nice steak on the grill and eat some potato salad with it. It’s funny, because every bbq you go to, you get the impression that it’s about the side dishes and not about the grilling; pasta salad, potato salad, herb butters in all flavours, aioli, salads, baked stuff, veggies, hundreds of dips and sauces. That’s how a German bbq will look.
I never really gave much thought to the tradition of bbq. I guess I somehow assumed though that it’s an American thing that came to Europe. Or maybe even from South America, but I guess history wise that makes little sense. It’s easy to think though, when taking into account the bbq and smoking culture in Texas and other places. Franklin Barbecue in Austin, Die Fette Sau in New York and so many other places around the US specialise on one thing only, and that’s how to bring great smoked and barbecued meat to the people.
Recently, I stumbled across the fact that American bbq has its roots in Germany. To a big part at least. Grilling and smoking meat was – and is – very popular in Germany, as well as Eastern and Central Europe back in the days when many people emigrated to the US. This practice was brought by immigrants to Carolina and Texas, and prevailed until today. If we want to look at some examples, there are Hot Dogs, which used to be called Franks, referring to Frankfurter sausages that were served in a long bun along with sauerkraut. Pickles that often go with a good BBQ, as well as mustard sauces or the good old cold bottle of beer, are all things that have a long tradition in Germany.
However, not all credit goes to Germany here. French and British culture also plays a major part in the beginnings of cooking meat over fire, basting and marinating it in delicious herbs, mustards, oils and condiments. Spain is very important, too, of course with Columbus and the exploration and exploitation of the New World.