Sunday, January 16, 2022

Soul Food Scholar Reclaims Barbecue for African American Culture in New Book ‘Black Smoke’

Adrian Miller
Adrian Miller

*(LOS ANGELES) – For centuries, the creations and innovations of Blacks in America have been culturally appropriated — case in point, the true history of barbecue’s culinary origins. In his new book, “Black Smoke: African Americans and the United States of Barbecue,” James Beard Award winning author Adrian Miller reclaims a celebrated African American tradition and reinforces barbecue as an important Black cultural contribution to American cuisine.

Black Smoke is a delectable Black History lesson that takes a scholarly approach to tracing the evolution of barbecue in America. From its earliest mentions in journals written by Spanish explorers in 1513, through American slavery and Jim Crow, all the way to modern day grill-masters, Black food artisans, once lost to time, vividly come to life in the pages of Miller’s new book. He offers first person accounts, oral histories, and published reports about connoisseurs of slow-cooked meat who distinguished themselves through their ability to que! Miller also examines the array of cultural influences that have helped shape the culinary art of barbecue.

Native Americans, Latinx, Afro-Caribbeans, Asians, Europeans, everyone smoked meat…but, Black Americans perfected it! As the Black community continues to reclaim “the culture,” Miller’s Black Smoke solidly makes the case for African Americans as the true innovators of barbecue.

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Black Smoke coverBlack Smoke: African Americans and the United States of Barbecue” is available now at all major booksellers or wherever books are sold.

To research Black Smoke, Miller poured over thousands of historical records, and interviewed barbecue entrepreneurs, restaurateurs, and backyard culinary artists. Furthering his deep research, Miller dined at over a hundred African American-owned barbecue restaurants across the country.

“Over the years, I’ve watched too many television programs and read too many pieces about barbecue that failed to mention African Americans, who further developed and popularized the cuisine,” said Miller. “So many times I was left wondering, ‘Do people even know that Black people barbecue?’ I knew that I had to write a more comprehensive and inclusive version of the American barbecue story. I want readers to appreciate how African Americans significantly shaped American barbecue culture as cooks and entrepreneurs. You can’t talk about, and celebrate, barbecue in America without including African Americans.”

Barbecued chickenAdrian Miller is a certified Kansas City Barbecue Society judge and recipient of a James Beard Foundation Book Award for Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American CuisineOne Plate at a Time.

A consultant on Netflix’s Chef’s Table BBQ, Miller’s most recent book is The President’s Kitchen Cabinet: The Story of the African Americans Who Have Fed Our First Families, from the Washingtons to the Obamas.



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