So, I get to day 24 of Barbecology Advent 2022. This is after I decided on the last day of November that I'd finally publish the amendments I'd made to the site (including the domain name!) and then spend advent doing daily posts on what was now on here. The main change in the site was a reflection of the direction my journey through barbecue had taken me. I am not by any means the best chef on social media and why would I want to and need to compete with the best that I already follow? Plus, what I started to enjoy with barbecue was much more than the pure culinary aspects of barbecue; cooking, eating and blogging about the food itself. I had, through my MBA dissertation many years ago, uncovered much more that I enjoyed and was able to contribute to the world of barbecue beyond the great food that was out there already. So I started to hatch and progressively convert what it was I researched, was interested in, would talk to people about and what my role in the scene would be.
When I wrote my dissertation on the sustainability of the barbecue food industry (full dissertation linked here...yes this is my actual submitted dissertation in full, of which I was awarded a distinction...with a shorter article on the themes linked here) there were so many historical, evolutionary, scientific and social science aspects that started to come out that I couldn't ignore them. To me this added to the background and essence of what barbecue is, taking it back to its roots in ways other than culinary, it was deeper.
So what is barbecology? Well, I've developed this as a topic throughout the course of me writing on it, in essence it's the study of barbecue, but that is over-simplistic and doesn't offer anything to you. The tag I've given the site is that this is the 'art and science of live fire food', which starts to get at the depth of the topic. To take the explanation a bit further, it is the cross-disciplinary study, by observation, study, research and experimentation of foods cooked by live fire. This, until the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries is effectively the history of cooking, which at the extreme barbecology 'could' cover, but in reality it is a bit more specific and nuanced than that. The term barbecue, which derives from a native Caribbean term that has evolved through conquest, language, exploitation, immigration, slavery, modernisation and gentrification, is inextricably linked to the subject of barbecology. So whilst American Barbecue (as the modern day delineation of the term) is a part of the subject of barbecology it is not synonymous. Neither does barbecology just seek to be the history of food before the invention of the gas cooker, electric grill or microwave oven. I am comfortable that what barbecology seeks to explore is specific enough that it provides a holistic view of an aspect of modern cuisine that is enjoyed by many (and includes live fire) but diverse enough to consider a key part of our ancient and contemporary history as well as our evolution as a species.
Looking back at the articles I've authored, copied from previous work or developed as I've gone on in this period of advent I do feel it represents what I see to be barbecology. There are the origins of human species in the use of fire to cook food, through to the origin of the term and its use, and development through history and society (including religion) into its impact on sustainability of our food network today. There are so many aspects of barbecue, many of which lend themselves to other areas of food science and food history that are worth focusing on barbecue and others I've yet to more deeply explore. There is so much more on the science of barbecue; chemistry, biology, physics and indeed psychology that is involved and makes up what is barbecue food and barbecue as a wider trend. There is more history, philosophy and literary aspects of barbecue that need exploring. Finally, of course, there is of course everything in the culinary aspects of barbecue to explore and even better develop over time, which is in the end the medium by which the rest of the aspects come together to make barbecue what it is.