Lake High is coming to town this Saturday to promote his new book, A History of South Carolina Barbeque. That’s “barbeque” with a “q”, a stylistic decision that’s likely to inflame partisans of a tradition that prizes debate as much as deliciousness.
Barbecue – as the AP Style Guide prefers it – is commonly abbreviated as BBQ, Bar-B-Q and just plain ‘Q’. As Texas Monthly’s barbecue editor, Daniel Vaughn, last year wrote in a blog post for the Southern Foodways Alliance, such shorthand is so popular with pitmasters that “I once asked Aaron Franklin if he spelled out the name of his Austin brisket temple, Franklin Barbecue, on purpose. He confirmed that it was intentional—‘BBQ just sounds like you’re in a hurry’.”
But putting a ‘q’ in ‘barbeque’ is slightly more controversial. That’s because the word barbecue is universally acknowledged as having derived from the Spanish word barbacoa. The spelling ‘barbeque’ recalls a debunked folk theory that the word came from the French barbe a queue or head-to-tail.
“We use a ‘q’ because the letter ‘c’ when sounded out reminds people of seafood and the sound ‘q’ reminds people of barbeque,” says High, president of the South Carolina Barbecue Association. ”Plus, we use the ‘q’ with a palmetto tree as our logo.”
Any questions? High will be signing books at Costco at noon on Saturday, and at Home Team BBQ in West Ashley at 6 p.m.