USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘barbecue’
Foodways

Sunday Family Barbecues

The informant is a 39 year old male from Ecuador. His family used to live in Ecuador, where he was born. He moved to live in Southern California with his immediate family and cousins.

Informant’s Tradition: Every Sunday, my family makes barbecues. It’s always carne asada, or some form of carne asada and ribs. Sometimes other families will come over and it turns into a bigger party, but it’s just what my mom does. If my uncle comes over, he’ll bring something else. If I go, I’ll usually get guacamole and salsa. My mom has always been more of a house wife, taking care of the kids. When I was a kid, she always took care of me and the other kids. She takes care of my sister’s kids, so she’s always been like the homemaker.

Collector: Why do you think your mom does this?

Informant: That’s just who she was. She was the oldest sibling–she was the first daughter, so she has six brothers and sisters. And she always helped my mom take care of the other siblings. My mom enjoys it.

Collector: Where did your mom learn this from?

Informant: From my grandma. My grandma used to own a restaurant, so she taught my mom how to cook.

Collector: What does this mean to you?

Informant: To me, I think it’s just a way of keeping the family together, always knowing that there’s this event to bring us together. So they’re always there doing their thing, so they bring the family together.

Weekend barbecues is a very popular American tradition, and it’s interesting to see how cultures blend together when an Ecuadorian family participates in the culture. It shows the “melting pot” nature of the United States–the blend of Sunday barbecues with carne asada, guacamole, and salsa. It also shows there is a universality of the mother’s multiple roles in taking care of her family.

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Rituals, festivals, holidays

Memphis in May Barbecue Fest

The festival: “Teams of cooks enter the huge contest every May in Memphis. They have a big cook-off that’s judged to see who has the best ribs or pulled pork. Memphis is the slow cooked barbecue capital of the world. It’s a very exciting time in our city. You have to know someone in order to enter the tents and eat the food.”

The informant is my mom, who has lived in Memphis since college. Barbecue Fest is huge in Memphis, and anyone who cooks enters the contest. It is usually the second weekend in May; the festival is part of the bigger Memphis in May celebration that focuses on a different country every year to raise international cultural awareness. You have to know someone in the contest to get into the fest, but since so many people from all across the city enter, a lot of guests end up being let in. Memphians are proud of their good barbecue, and will shut down anyone who says that another city or state is known for the best barbecue in the world. They’ll even avoid eating barbecue outside of Memphis. The Barbecue Fest is a way for Memphians to celebrate themselves and their food and enjoy each other’s company. It’s also just a place to relax after a hard week at work and meet other cooks and try their food.

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