One of my favorite things about summer is firing up the grill and eating outside. With the Fourth of July almost upon us, it is prime cook out time. Few things feel as quintessentially American as a picnic spread of burgers, dogs, condiments, coleslaw and Coca Cola.
Turns out that those items, and their names, all have the origins in other countries, which seems quintessentially American as well. The BBQ word origins and fun facts illustrate how our traditions came about and how the United States really is a melting pot, of people, traditions, and flavors. What a great thing to celebrate!
Barbecue: Millions of Americans will celebrate our nation’s Independence Day by attending a barbecue (or cookout, or picnic). The term originated from a Native American language spoken in what is now Haiti. The Arawakan word barbakoa meant “framework of sticks.” The contemporary meaning of “grill for cooking over an open fire” arose in the 1930s.
Ketchup: I think ketchup is the kind of condiments. I’m going to take it a step farther and admit that I love to put ketchup on my hot dog. That sound you hear is the gasps of all my friends from Chicago where doing so is blasphemous. In Ohio, however, it was and is perfectly acceptable. Thank goodness, because I think it’s a delicious combination.
This condiment, made of tomatoes and vinegar, got its name from a very different sauce made in China. The word ketchup comes from the Malay word kichap, a brine of fish. American sailors added tomatoes to create the sauce we enjoy today.
Hamburger: The word hamburger owes its origins to the German city of Hamburg. Historians believe that around the same time sausage makers were refining their meat products, cooks in Hamburg were serving up this cooked version of steak tartare.
Coleslaw: Often mistakenly called cold slaw since the late 1800s, the word cole actually comes from the Dutch word for cabbage, kool. The word slaw is a shortened form of salade.
Hot dog: This word was born when German immigrants in the U.S. began selling variations of sausages, some of which were thin and long, like dachshunds. Merchants with a morbid sense of humor started calling these dachshund sausages. Over time, the phrase shortened to hot dog and the name stuck.
Mayonnaise: Who knew that this word was the source of international debate? Not me, but turns out that there are two competing theories as to the origin of the word mayonnaise. One holds that it is named after Mahon, the city in Spain. However, the French contend that the word is a mutation of bayonnaise, from the French town, Bayonne.
Cola: The word cola actually comes from a tree, not a drink. It is named after the cola or kola nut tree, which is native to tropical western Africa. Colas were originally made with the dried leaves and nuts of cola trees, so both Pepsi-Cola and Coca-Cola took their names from their main ingredients.
I’d love to know your favorite BBQ food and tradition! Please share in the comments below.
You may also like: 11 fun facts about the 4th of July
Prior post: 6 simple ways to make summer learning fun
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