Bald eagles, baseball, apple pie, and Chuck Norris have nothing on George Washington when it comes to being American. After all, his resume is the most complete: One of the founding fathers of America. Check. America’s first great general. Check. Nation’s first President. Check that too. But did you also know he’s the official American forefather of Barbecue, too? We all know he didn’t invent American BBQ- or ‘barbicue’ as he would spell it. But out of all of our forefathers, his appreciation for the ‘cue is a true piece of America’s unique history.
George Washington practiced, advocated, and crashed plenty of BBQ’s in his time, and helped kick off this American summer tradition that is more popular than ever. In fact you can still visit Washington’s smoke house at Mt.Vernon. With its slat sided interior for hanging meats and brick lined firepit dug into the center of the floor, it stands to this day as sort of the Washington Monument of BBQ. GW’s smoky exploits are recorded in articles of public record and his own diaries he penned throughout his lifetime .
Long before he would become the POTUS, during the French and Indian War, he would use ‘Barbicue’ for his troops rations. Washington wrote to Henery Bouquet in 1758 about supply shortages of salt provisions forcing him to cure fresh meats by barbecue, a practice inspired by Native Americans. Even a young Washington demonstrated the useful benefits of different ‘Barbicue techniques. As vital as it was to providing safe and sustainable sustenance, he knew barbecue would play a long-term, awesome, and permanent role in American culture. He understood the importance of barbecue as a celebration of kindship and camaraderie. The cavemen learned to speak and communicate while sitting around flames outside of their caves. But people in Washington’s era realized it could be fun and communal. How perfect that grilling out on the 4th of July remains the preferred cooking method on our nation’s birthday over 200 years later.
The coming together of people and smoke meats for celebrations may not be completely unique to America. But not many Kings, Queens, dictators, or other world leaders hung out at BBQ’s to gain support or have a good time. It’s a political season rerun every election year in the U.S. to see politicians rolling up their sleeves and kissing babies while declaring their ‘common man’ roots over pulled pork or ribs at a BBQ restaurant or event. Our trailblazing Forefather of BBQ would attend a barbecue 99 years before the first recognized Memorial Day holiday. Washington indicated he started his own ‘Summer of 69’ when he wrote in his journal on May 27th 1769…
Once again leading his fellow Americans with his actions, an embodiment of how we all should celebrate these summer American holidays, with family and friends, BBQ’ing and all nite long, (and not stoppin’ till the break-a break-a dawn). Legend has it that George won 8 shillings in a table game on that smoke filled night. A much later diary entry from September 18th 1773 proves Washington enjoyed expressing the hospitality of hosting Q’s. He wrote that he threw ‘a barbicue of my own giving at Accotinick’.
So as We the People dance in a haze of red, white and blue smokebombs this Independence Day, dont forget to tip your grill lid to the original forefather of America and ‘Barbicue’: General George Washington.
Help us let others know why Washington was really a great president: he was cool enough to realize that while it’s probably good to be a King, it’s much better to be a Grill Master- or even a duly elected official who served the needs of the real hardworking Americans who are truly the ones who made this country great.
Happy 4th of July from KC Natural!
PS – Share this article with your fellow Americans so they can have another reason to be thankful and fire up the grill this Independence Day!
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