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Monday, July 4, 2011

July 4 Barbecue From America's Melting Pot

Independence Day is the biggest grilling day of the year, according to the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association, and burgers are the most popular meal. 
On the Fourth of July, America's melting pot becomes a red-hot grill. Korean-Americans might lay down salty-sweet kalbi, beef short ribs seasoned with sesame and eaten in a lettuce wrap. Japanese families might serve up yakitori, dainty skewered bits of chicken liver, pork belly, shishito peppers, shiitake mushrooms or prawns with the head on. And a mixed grill from Latin America could be Argentine steak with bacon and eggs, Uruguayan Pamplona — chicken breast stuffed with ham, cheese and peppers — or sensual Peruvian chicken marinated in cumin, garlic and yellow chilies. Look over the fence to your Australian neighbors and you'll see "shrimp on the barbie," while the Greek family on the other side might be charring oregano-dusted octopus.
All over the world, people have been grilling since they discovered fire, and when they came to the United States they brought their signature flavors with them. Many of these flavors have, of course, made their way into American barbecue traditions.
Barbecue expert Steven Raichlen provides examples of what immigrants have brought to the grill: In California, Mexican ranch hands contributed Santa Maria Tri Tip, sirloin steak served with salsa and pinquito beans, the small pink sister of Boston baked beans; in the Midwest, an Austrian immigrant introduced bratwurst, an often beer-poached sausage that's a staple of Wisconsin cookouts and any self-respecting college football tailgate; and in the Texas Hill Country, the beef links known as Texas Hot Guts came from the Czechs who settled the region.
"When you go to Italy or Argentina, they are so happy and content with their local grilling tradition that they would never dream of augmenting it," Raichlen says. "But we have this wonderful gift, because we're a nation of immigrants, to embrace foods and make them our own."

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