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Rack of ribs.

Sorry, grillmasters: you might not know what barbecue is

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By Natalie Grim

WASHINGTON (Circa) - Sorry to break the news, but your Fourth of July hamburgers and hot-dogs on the grill don’t technically count as barbecue. Do you know what exactly the term means?

We often use “barbecue” to refer to meat, a synonym for grilling or even an outdoor party. Its actual definition is a cooking method that involves smoking meat over wood or charcoal for a long time.

While the exact origins of the style is unknown, it’s believed that the Spanish first coined the word “barbacoa” for the cooking method they saw Caribbean natives using. Since then, barbecue has had a rich history in the Americas. Even George Washington wrote about attending a “barbicue” in 1769.

The South is the best place in the U.S. to visit if you want to learn how to barbecue right. Each region has their own specialties. North Carolina specializes in pork and Memphis focuses on ribs and pulled pork sandwiches. Sauce is the most important part of the barbecue in Kansas City. Texas has several regional styles, but are known for the beef brisket.

If you’re looking to taste every style, you can head to any number of barbecue festivals and competitions around the country. The largest is the American Royal World Series of Barbecue that takes place in Kansas City. Over 500 teams come to compete in several categories of cooking every year.

Now you’re ready to not only impress with your barbecue skills, but your barbecue knowledge at your Fourth of July celebration next week.

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