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barbecue [West Indian or South American], in the United States, traditionally an open-air gathering, political or social, in which meats are roasted whole over a pit of embers and food and drink are liberally enjoyed. The term barbecue also refers to the meat being roasted. In the modern barbecue smaller cuts of meat are dipped in or basted with a highly seasoned sauce. The type of meat and style of sauces reflect regional tastes. For example, in the United States, pork with a vinegar-based sauce is favored in the South, and highly spiced beef barbecue predominates in the Southwest. The term "barbecue" was adopted by the Spanish from barbacoa, which the Arawak of the Caribbean used to designate a wood grill on which meat was cooked.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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