The backyard barbeque is a quintessential part of American life and woven into the fabric of our social communities across the country. This past Independence Day, I found myself wondering and grateful about the ease with which we can grill meats and veggies in the comfort of our own homes. It’s the most standard of parties that anyone with a backyard or patio has probably hosted at some point.
The feel of a breezy linen garden dress, freshly mown grass under my bare feet, and the lingering, woodsy scent on a cool evening of a hardworking grill going hot define summertime relaxation for me. Yet, it has not always been an easy feat to pull together a barbeque feast at home.
History of the Backyard BBQ
It started in 1952 with a Great Lakes buoy. Barbeque as a food started well before that, of course. Spanish conquistadors (mercenary soldiers) in the West Indies called it ‘barbacoa’ and colonists arriving in Virginia brought over that tradition of ‘barbeque’ from the West Indies. That’s one version. Of course, the west coast has its own theory that barbeque came to America via California through the indigenous people, Mexican ranchers, and cowboy campfires.
In 1952, a welder at the Weber Brothers Metal Works built the now-iconic Weber grill. Tired of his backyard open brick pit having poor heat control and ashes blown in his face, Stephen cut a metal buoy in half, put legs on one half and turned the other half into the domed lid. Although there were other home grills being developed at the time, Weber’s remains the one we think of as typical of the American backyard barbeque.
The Weber Kettle grill and others like it instantly became popular with American soldiers returning from WWII, who had settled in large numbers in suburban homes with backyards. Eager to create a space for relaxation and socializing in their new homes, these families brought in the portable grill, plus the many accessories retailers were selling them. They held island themed parties and mixed up tropical cocktails to re-create the Caribbean, Hawaiian, Pacific and other islands. This new type of entertaining also created the division of labor, where men grilled and women cooked in the kitchen.
In my own home, when I have the pleasure of entertaining people from around the world right in my backyard, I host a barbeque. It never ceases to interest my international friends that we can grill meat right at home. In Korea, barbeque requires people to go to a restaurant. Northern India, of course, has its clay tandoor, a large, permanent fixture that’s not possible to install in most homes. Although portable versions exist, home models cannot match the 900 degree heat required to quickly bake naan and grill skewered meats.
The American barbeque stands out in its tradition of combining socializing with grilling, right in one’s home. The image of a group of family and friends talking and laughing in a green backyard, cold drinks in hand, perhaps playing a game, while smoke rises from the nearby grill is fundamentally American.
Backyard Summer Style
I designed my summer dresses in appreciation that our lives are so full and filled with such gatherings: Easy, sleeveless midi dresses perfect for gracious summertime gatherings; blouses in colors as sweet as ice-cream; and a variety of hats and accessories to complement them. I hope you enjoy them as you responsibly and safely enjoy attending or hosting barbecues this summer.
Red Plaid Headband with Daisy Pin