Hawai‘i Herald Columnist
“Time to light a fire . . .” That’s what celebrity chef Roger Mooking proclaims on every episode of “Man, Fire, Food” as he is about to light the coals. Although nature’s thermostat has moved several degrees higher these past few months, that is the only proclamation I need to light a fire and get back to mankind’s earliest method of cooking. I usually tell readers on the continent that the 50th has only two seasons: a very hot summer that lasts from September through May and an unbearably stifling summer from June through August. During those dog days of summer, it’s time to light up those grills and smokers. After all, if you can’t beat the heat, join ’um by creating even more heat!
Is It Barbecue?
To barbecue — or barbacoa from the Caribbean Taino culture —refers to meat, often as a whole animal slow-cooked over an open fire or sometimes in an underground pit covered over with maguey leaves. The leaves are part of the agave family (made to produce tequila and mescal) — they provide moisture during the long cooking period.
The original barbacoa process is similar to the Hawaiian tradition of cooking a pig in an imu — an underground pit — with the pig covered in banana leaves and stalks. The end result is the same whether Taino or Hawaiian: moist, slightly smoky meat that literally slides off of the bone.
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Ryan Tatsumoto is a clinical pharmacist by day. In his off-hours, however, he and his wife enjoy seeking out perfect marriages of food and wine. Ryan is a certified sommelier and a certified specialist of wine. The Windward O‘ahu resident also writes a column for San Francisco’s Nichi Bei Weekly called “The Gochiso Gourmet.”