Whether you spell it barbecue, barbeque, BBQ, Bar-B-Q, or 'cue, barbecue in Oakland is big, and has been for a long time.
There are various types (chicken, beef, pork, etc.) and cuts of meat, and numerous styles with regional origins, but the one thing most avid barbecue fans will agree on is that the meat needs to be smoked and slow cooked, not grilled.
Regarding the spelling:
Barbeque is spelled “que” instead of “cue” because it is black code. Before the civil rights movement of the 1960s and just like the old Negro Motorist Green Book Guide, black travelers knew not to stop at a joint with a sign with the word spelled “barbecue” – it was code for a white business. 4
In 2012 [ and maybe 2011 or 2013 ] there was a Bay Area Barbecue Championship held at the Oakland Coliseum prior to an A's game. About 40 professional and amateur teams competed as a fundraiser for Alternative Family Services, an organization dedicated to foster youth in the Bay Area. The website indicates the event won't be held again.
In 2014, there was a barbecue competition as part of the annual Art and Soul Festival, in honor of Oakland's long barbecue history.
History in Oakland
The word barbecue goes back to the 1650s, and comes to English from the Spanish barbacoa, which comes from the Arawak barbacoa, a raised frame of sticks. 3
According to an Oakland Tribune article about Everett & Jones Barbeque founder Dorothy Everett, barbecue first appeared in Oakland in the 1880s with German immigrants. 1 There are references to groups holding barbecues in Oakland as early as 1856, 2 though it is unclear from the context exactly what cooking technique this refers to, or whether it simply refers to an "outdoor cooking event". And although the Peralta family raised cattle primarily for their hides and for tallow (rendered beef fat), they doubtless cooked a cow or two over a fire.
The first barbecue restaurant in Oakland was probably Emil Villa's Hickory Pit, started in 1928. Barbecue got bigger in Oakland during the great migrations (1910-1930 and 1940-1970) when millions of people moved from the south to the north and west and brought their various barbecue traditions with them.
Pages tagged “bbq”
Links and References
- The East Bay’s BBQ Hall of Fame Oakland Magazine September-October 2012
- The Improving State of the Pulled Pork Sandwich guest post on Our Oakland
- Bay Area BBQ Championship website
- BBQ in the Bay KQED Summer 2022
- Oakland 'barbecue royalty' dies at 76 Oakland Tribune October 11, 2007
- Another Barbecue Sacramento Daily Union October 20, 1856
- Barbecue on Dictionary.com
- The Barbeque Legacy of West Oakland's Historic 7th Street www.everettandjones.com