Technically speaking Barbecue refers to the method used in the cooking of the meat and has nothing to do with the rub or the sauce. Of course the method was developed in the Caribbean and comes from the Taino word baracoa which refers to the “sacred fire pit”. The Indians taught the Spanish and English how to do it and the art was carried back to the old world. The Carib Indians were so sophisticated in cooking that they cultivated hot peppers to spice up their foods 6000 years ago when Europeans were still hunter gatherers and not farming at all.
The barbecue process has spread all over the world, but the Caribbean people have a 6000 year head start so you have to accept that they have refined the art form. Now as funny as this may seem there is no fixed set of equipment and I have seen people barbecue conch in their own shell, drop live crabs into a hot bed of coals and remove them with a stick and use old stainless steel racks from refrigerators for cooking grills at beach camping.
Professionally the barbecue pit is a block structure or a movable galvanized enclosure. In a professional setup, the shaft is turned with a washing machine motor geared down to less then 10 revolutions per minute. The common factor except for the crabs is the indirect heat and the absence of flair-ups from fat dripping in the fire and burning the meat above it. But then crabs in the shell don’t have much fat to drip.
If you want to cook like a West Indian you must be frugal and use as little Charcoal as possible, all banked to one side of the barbecue pit or grill. Some cooks can cook a whole pig on a stick for 4 hours until done using only ½ bag of charcoal.
The frugality continues in the selection of equipment. In my case I am using an old Weber grill that would have been thrown out in New Jersey years ago. However, it seems that every time I go to a store to buy the replacement parts, they are still out, the order has not arrived or they store is so crowded that I would have to invest a day of my time to buy a new grill. I am very proud of the handle piece made from long bolts and nuts, fender washers, a piece of wood and a couple of short pieces of copper tubing. It actually works better than the original as it is far enough away from the lid not to burn your hand.
However to insure that the meat does not fall into the fire, I need to add another old grill on top and a stone to balance the grill because of the missing rack holder on the opposite side which has rotted away.
Of course the chicken has been washed with Lime Juice and seasoned with Goya Adobo and the chicken is located on the grill on the opposite side of the fire and the potato in a hotter area of the grill.
At this point the grill was covered and I went to the Palms resort for a couple of glasses of wine and did nothing but enjoy myself for an hour.
Take note that when I returned, everything was perfectly cooked and if you compare the cooked and uncooked pictures, you will note that nothing has been moved.
The second best part about barbecuing in my mind other than the fantastic food is the ease of cleaning up. In this case, I skipped the barbecue sauce and just added hot sauce at the table.
In general, Islanders don’t really care how things are done up north which is to say everything north of Cuba as they had hundreds and even thousands of years of isolation to figure out how to handle their own unique situations in life. And when it comes to barbecue, I tend to agree.