This is a long, and interesting post about an oft times complicated and
controversial man to say the least. This is about one man's love of barbecue
that may well have given him the solace needed to get through some fairly
rough times in life. Some of you will immediately react to some of his
ingredients but, to each his own. One man's Q may not and often doesn't
adhere to another's definition of Q. Bobby Seale had a degree in Cultural
Anthropology and was a black social activist during the civil rights era of
American history and one of the founders of the Black Panthers organization.
I've taken a page off of his web site which gives an interesting review of
his beginnings with Q and some interesting cultural information about his
family and bbq in Texas.
The last item I post here will be what I found on the Internet that is
supposed to have been Bobby's approach to his family's Q, recipes for dry
rub, marinade and sauce. Along with techniques on cooking spareribs, all
that he learned from his Uncle's restaurant in Texas.
I hope you enjoy this as much as I did.
(Excerpt from webpage)
BARBEQUE'N with BOBBY SEALE
THERE IS A DISTINCT CONNECTION BETWEEN the spelling or the pronunciation of
a word and its cultural etymological root-that is, the true meaning of what
people do culturally and how they refer to it. When I first began to write
this barbeque cookbook, I felt the strongest urge to look up barbeque in the
dictionary. To my surprise my spelling didn't appear before me. I found my
treasured word but with the spelling barbecue-meaning to roast or broil on a
rack over hot coals or over a revolving spit before or over a source of
cooking heat. Historically, the word was pronounced "ba ba coa" by the Taino
people of the Bahamas.
Oddly enough, throughout all my years from Texas to California, I had very
seldom seen a pit or restaurant sign that used the dictionary spelling
barbecue (especially in the Black community). When I had seen such signs
near or outside my community, I didn't feel that familiar mouth-watering
effect which my favorite food could provoke instantly. I later began to
think perhaps I had an inborn prejudice to such signs because in the Black
community the word was always spelled "Bar Be Que" or "Bar B Que" or
"B B Q," and accompanied with that special hickory aroma. I began to feel
that the "cue" spelling represented something drab, or even "square," as we
used to say in the 1950s. My realization was that most restaurants whose
signs lacked the suffix -que seemed to be void of that ever-pervasive down
home hickory-smoked aroma which would literally carry for blocks.
If the hickory-smoked aroma carried for blocks, surely the word of mouth
praises carried for miles. My Uncle Tom Turner's Bar B Que Pit restaurant in
Liberty, Texas, had just such a reputation. It was said that people would
come from as far as one hundred miles just to feast on his barbeque
I can remember clearly in 1950 the first two weeks of my Texas vacation in
the late summer through early fall. My parents had moved from Texas to
California following wartime job opportunities in the mid-forties, but late
summers were reserved for going back to our roots. My parents missed Texas
and would faithfully return to visit our kinfolk and loved ones throughout
southeastern Texas-Jasper County, Beaumont, and Liberty.
Soon after arriving in Texas, our summer-fall vacations were often
highlighted by attending huge church association fanfares. Under enormous
tents which sheltered us from the blazing Texas sun, we'd feast on dishes
prepared by the sisters of the church. Sweet potato pie, fried chicken and
fish, and barbeques of smoked beef and spareribs were prepared by the men
and women at the pits. In the midst of happy greetings, praises to the Lord,
and harmless gossip, I'd hear statements like: "This bobbyque sho' is good!
But Lawd, it takes Tom Turner to really bobbyque some meat!"
Bobbyque? Yes! To my young ears it always sounded like that, an idiomatic
expression I certainly didn't question. For most of my life, when black
folks pronounced barbeque, the first two syllables literally sounded like my
One year my favorite first cousin Alvin was leaving for the remainder of the
vacation to spend time with his father, Tom Turner. I remember tearfully
convincing my mama to let me go, too. I wanted to be near the soulful
restaurant activity and luscious presence of the hickory-smoked food I
couldn't get enough of. When we arrived, Uncle Tom greeted Alvin and me in
his southern Texas hospitable style. He said we could eat to our fill plus
earn two dollars a day if we would help him around his barbeque restaurant.
Through the first week, I watched Uncle Tom with wide-eyed innocence as he
went about the daily chores of preparing barbeque from early morning pit
fire to afternoon scrumptious delights.
Because of my daily interest, Uncle Tom guided me through his secret
process, teaching me how to place the hickory wood, burn it down, and spread
the coals. He explained the importance of having a pit fire without any
flames. He would pull out slab after slab of sizzling ribs, whole chickens,
and browning hunks of roast beef and dip them into a large metal washtub of
what he called "base." I could hear the watery drippings of the "base" sting
as the droplets hit the hot hickory wood coals. The smoke conjured up a
potion that would make me heady, almost paralyzed by its appetizing aroma.
"Bobbyque smells good, huh, Bobby?" said Uncle Tom smiling one day.
"Uncle Tom, it's the best in the world!" I exclaimed.
"How you know?" laughed Uncle Tom.
"I done ate some of everybody's BOBBYQUE .... Out in California and all over
Texas .... And yo's is da best!"
Uncle Tom laughed as he hustled a hunk of browning beef out of the pit and
dunked it once again into the washtub of baste. He would dip or mop-baste
thirty or forty slabs of spareribs in the pit, turn them, and baste them
again, and again.
"When you make BOBBYQUE, you don't put no sauce on it till it's done. Da
base makes it tenda. Taste good right down to da bone," Uncle Tom would say
matter-of-factly. The "base" marinade was the key. It was Uncle Tom's secret
method: onions, peppers, garlic, lemon juice, vinegar, celery, and
seasonings placed in two large boiling pots of water. "We gotta let dease
ribs soak in da base ova night," Uncle Tom would say as he poured "base"
over the meats placed in the washtubs.
The meats were marinated before the pit-smoking, then constantly dipped in
or mopbasted with the marinade throughout the pit-smoking process. That
delicious taste was further accentuated by the steaming smoke of the hickory
wood in a large enclosed brick pit. This process was the secret behind that
fascinating aroma and taste.
Throughout my month-long vacation I absorbed Uncle Tom's culinary art while
I dreamed of owning such a restaurant some day. I happily served customers,
many times watching them savor the moment and hearing their praises and
compliments. My vacation was ending too soon. However, since I'd been such a
good worker and pupil, Uncle Tom let me prepare a small batch of barbeque
before I left for California. After I finished, I chose the juiciest slab of
ribs and hunk of beef, and presented them to Uncle Tom for his opinion.
"Bobby, boy, dis' heah is some really good BOBBYQUE!" Elated by the
compliment, I hopped around the restaurant with a feeling of youthful
accomplishment and my twelve-year-old chest poked out. It was a time I've
never forgotten. I had been given the chance and the secret recipe method to
prepare the food I loved the most. I decided that from that day on I would
prepare barbeque like Uncle Tom "qued" it for the rest of my life. However,
when I returned home to California, little did I realize that it would be
years before I focused on the idiomatic expression, "BOBBYQUE" and its
etymology, and why it was pronounced like my name.
After a four-year stint in the U.S. Air Force, and a couple of years as a
comedian and jazz drummer, I enrolled at Merritt College in Oakland,
California. The third semester I chose cultural anthropology as an
extracurricular course. With the advent of the 1960s there grew a burning
desire among my college peers and myself to know about Black American and
African history. Reading Jomo Kenyatta's Facing Mount Kenya I had the
fantastic realization that Tarzan did not run Africa, and I wanted to know
about my African ancestors who did. Following up afootnote, I encountered an
article alluding to the roots of surviving Africanisms in Afro-American
English. Black English?Through out my early school years I had often been
criticized for pronouncing words incorrectly. My black and white teachers
alike would vehemently criticize and say I spoke "pigeon language" or broken
English. For example I would say "dese " instead of "these"; "flo" instead
of "floor"; "do," pronounced doe, instead of "door," etc.
Preparing a term paper for my cultural anthropology class, I chose the
subject of West African agricultural sites-that is, what particular
vegetables, fruits, and other plants were first cultivated by African Homo
Sapiens. It was an unconscious choice even though the topic was connected
with food. Reading through a book entitled Myth of the Negro Past, by
Melville J. Herskovits, I followed up another footnote that made reference
to a Black professor of English, Dr. Lorenzo Dow Turner. Dr. Turner had
published Africanisms in the Gullah Dialect (1949), a work on his twelve
years of field expeditions researching surviving Africanisms in Black
American language via West African ethnic groups and South American and
Caribbean descendants of West Africans. It was yet another fantastic
realization to find out that certain idiomatic expressions had survived
among Black folks in the United States. There was a distinct reason why
Blacks in the US and elsewhere in the Americas pronounced many English words
as they did.
Dr. Turner also pinpointed a number of surviving words from Africa in the
US, some of which related to food and plants first developed and cultivated
in West Africa. From an anthropological standpoint, the stringy yam arguably
comes from the Senegalese area, the location of Alex Haley's Roots. Yam
originally meant "to eat." Kola nuts, a main ingredient in Coca Cola and
other cola beverages, were first cultivated in West Africa. While "kola"
sounds African, the English word cola is not an African word. Goober as in
Granny Goose's Goobers (packaged peanuts) or the candy bar Goobers, is a
direct surviving African word from the Congo and Angola areas. Goober
derives from nguba and gooba (without the "er" or rolling "r"
pronunciation), a word that means "nuts" that one eats. My research also
revealed that watermelon, cotton, and okra were first cultivated in West
Africa. The African Bantu word for okra is gumbo. This word has survived
because of African American and Louisiana Creole usage. Gumbo is a very
popular fish and shellfish southern stew which contains okra.
Dr. Turner's intent was also to prove that Black American idiomatic
expressions had little to do with our White American southern drawls or
dialects. After twelve years of field research (six in West Africa, six in
South America and the Caribbean), Dr. Turner found that certain idiomatic
inflections reflected surviving Africanisms in Black American language which
contribute to how blacks pronounce many words.
Many Black Americans pronounce such words as these "dese, those "dose,"
floor "flo" and barbeque "bobbyque."
Here the lack of the "ar" sound produced "bobby" instead of "barbe." The
"th," "er," and "ar" sounds are in fact absent in West African language, and
Black Americans are largely descendants of West African peoples. The
etymological path has been "ba ba coa," barbacoa, barbecue, barbeque, and
No one knows exactly what the "ba ba coa ," meant historically and
culturally to the Taino and West Indian peoples. However, whether you are a
New World African-American, Euro-American, Asian-American, or Native
American, the present-day American barbeque is an exciting and culturally
appetizing event. Everything about the word barbeque (or BOBBYQUE!) evokes
pleasure. To que the meat to that special flavor-to que the meat to a
luscious hickory-smoked tenderness-to que it with my traditional down home
recipe method, will "que" a person's heart, mind, and soul to expect a
delectable experience, thanks to barbeque secrets handed down to me by my
Uncle Tom Turner and passed on to you in this book.
Righteous down-home barbeque has been developed all over America with
considerable improvisation. Perfection can only come from trial and error
over many years. Thousands of culinary experts, particularly in the South,
guard and hoard their secret recipes and methods. l happen not to be one of
Having traveled extensively across the United States (over 40 states several
times over), I have tasted some of the best and the worst barbeque prepared
around the country. At the 1987 fifth annual "twenty-five thousand dollar
first prize" National Rib Cook-Off, in Cleveland, Ohio, I was selected to be
one of the judges of the contest for the "Best Ribs in America." For two
whole days I had the opportunity to eat and evaluate barbeque ribs from
Hawaii and all corners of the U.S., and from countries around the world:
Mexico, Canada, Australia, England, Hong Kong, and Ireland. Barbequing in
all its contemporary activity, recipes, and methods has truly become an
international festive occasion, a culinary example of human creativity.
From years of testing and tasting, with my Uncle Tom's recipe-methods as my
starting point, I've developed my own contemporary southern-style,
hickory-smoked barbeque recipes that have delighted the taste buds and
appetites of politicians, writers, community activists, movie stars, family
and friends, and thousands more at numerous barbeque fund-raisers. For over
thirty-five years I have perfected my pit-fire techniques, my sauces and
bastes, so that they will be distinguished from the commercial and many
times bland recipes found on "bottle-backs"
With its wide variety of hickory-smoked meats, fish, and poultry entrees and
its baste-marinades and barbeque sauces, you can't miss with this book. Also
included are many delicious southern-style side dishes such as Hickory
Honey-Seasoned Collard Greens, Hickory-Hocked Black-Eyed Peas,
Marshmallow-Orange Pit-Baked Sweet Potatoes, and Bacon-Cheddar Southern Corn
Bread. At the end are recipes for salt free, low sodium and sugarless
barbeque entrees and accompaniments. I'm sure this book will answer many
questions you may have had about preparing and getting the best results from
backyard pit-grill, smoke barbequing. With this work I've outlined my
creative recipe-methods on how to "do it" like Bobby Seale and my Uncle Tom
would "que" it.
Barbequing doesn't have to be an isolated festive occasion set aside only
for holidays and summer days. With this book, the American tradition of
barbequing can become your own savory, mouth-watering regular dining event.
On the other hand, barbequing can also be the attraction or fund-raising
occasion for your social or community event.
With more than one hundred recipes, this work becomes part of a continuing
culinary contribution to the American and intercommunal worldwide culture.
If you "bobby-que" with me and creatively improvise with me, or just follow
my recipes to a T, I guarantee that you will spice up your lifestyle and add
the very best contemporary down-home barbeque cuisine to your culinary
endeavors. So with these mouth-watering recipes I invite you to participate
in barbequing, or, if you will, "bobby-que'n"-a truly American act of
United States of America, EARTH.
(Recipe found on newsgroup)
Bobby Seale "Bobby-Que"
1 tablespoon each, ground black pepper, garlic parsley salt, onion powder or
onion parsley salt, paprika, celery seed.
BASTE / MARINADE
Liquids; 3 quarts water, 2 quarts apple juice, 1-1/2 cup red wine vinegar or
cider vinegar, 1 cup pure hickory liquid smoke, 1 cup Worcestershire sauce,
1 cup lemon juice or lime juice (from 5-6 lemons or limes)
Vegetables (all coarsely chopped); 3 cups onions, 2 cups red or green bell
peppers, 1 cup scallions, 3 cups celery, 1 cup chopped jalapeno peppers
(optional), 2 cloves garlic, rinds of 5-6 lemons or limes
Seasonings; 1 teaspoon ground black pepper, 2 teaspoon onion parsley salt, 2
teaspoon garlic parsley salt, 3 bay leaves
Bring water to a boil in a pot that holds 8 quarts. Add all vegetables and
seasonings and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and stew for an hour,
covered. Remove and discard stewed vegetables and add remaining liquid
ingredients to water. Bring to boil again, reduce heat to low and simmer for
10 minutes, covered. Remove from heat. Use at room temperature if marinating
meats from 3-5 hours, or cool completely and use to marinade meats in
refrigerator for 24 hours.
SPICY BARBEQUE SAUCE
Vegetables (finely chopped or pureed in blender with liquid ingredients);
1-cup onion, ½ cup scallions, ¾ cup red or green pepper, 1-cup celery, ½ cup
carrot, 2 cloves garlic.
Seasonings; 1 teaspoon each: garlic parsley salt, ground black pepper,
blended Italian herb seasoning, cayenne pepper. 3 tablespoons dry mustard
(or 1/3 cup prepared brown mustard), 1 cup packed dark brown sugar or 1 cup
honey or molasses, 2 tablespoons pure ground mild red chili powder.
Liquids; One 28 ounce can stewed tomatoes or 4-5 fresh tomatoes peeled,
chopped and pureed or 1 quart V-8 juice, 2 - 6 ounce cans tomato paste, ¾
cup red wine vinegar (or to taste), ¾ cup fresh lemon juice, ¾ cup dry red
wine, ½ cup spicy brown prepared mustard, ½ cup Worcestershire sauce, 1 cup
pure hickory liquid smoke (or more to taste), ½ cup melted butter, 2 cups
Hot Taste Option: 3 jalapeno peppers, chopped (or added to blender and
pureed with other vegetables) or, 2 tablespoons crushed dried red pepper,
or, 1/3 cup Tabasco sauce or Crystal hot sauce.
Combine everything and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low (gently
bubbling simmer) and cook for one hour, stirring frequently, or until sauce
begins to thicken. Store in bottles; freezes well in plastic container.
Yields approximately 2 quarts.
The basic components of Bobby's methods are a lengthy marinating of the
meats in a complex marinade; soaking of wood chips in the same marinade as
the meats; rubbing the meats with a dry rub before searing them, and using
the marinade to spray - baste the meats as they slowly cook over the pit
fire. Here's how it works for spare ribs,
4 - 5 slabs (10 - 15 pounds) pork spareribs. Crack each slab in 4 or 5
places. Place ribs in a sturdy plastic bag set in a rimmed pan and pour in
approximately one quart of baste/marinade - make sure it's enough to
submerge ribs. Tie bag securely, marinate for 3 hours at room temperature or
24 hours in refrigerator, turning occasionally.
1 pound of hickory wood chips. Presoak wood chips in 2 - 3 cups of baste /
marinade for 30 minutes and let chips drain slightly before using. Spread
half of soaked chips over a bed of 60 - 80 white-ash-hot charcoal
briquettes. Let wood chips burn into pit fire until flames are out. Midway
through 3 hour cooking time, add about another 30 briquettes and when they'
ve burned to white-ash-hot, spread second half of chips over them. When ribs
are placed on grill, close cover and adjust pit damper vents to
As the pit fire gets ready, remove ribs from marinade and drain. Retain used
marinade and strain through a fine sieve for later use for spray basting
ribs during cooking. Sprinkle light coating of Dry Rub on both sides of rib
slabs and rub in with your hands. Place ribs on lightly greased grill 4 - 6
inches above hot pit fire. Sear and brown, seal in dry rub for 3 -5 minutes
on each side.
Liberally brush or spray the sieved baste / marinade onto browned ribs and
baste again every 15 - 20 minutes for 3 hours. Close cover after each
basting. To control any pit flames, lightly spray douse them with baste or
water and/or adjust damper vents. The objective is constant basting over a
250 to 300 degree pit fire for juicy, tender, moist, smoked spareribs.
During the last 20 - 30 minutes of cooking time, brush on sauce or tong-dip
in sauce every 10 minutes. Close pit cover after each saucing.