Barbecue is a food soaked in Southern culture. Innumerable roadside restaurants and stands along the highways of the South can be detected from a mile away from the aromatic smoke billowing from them. In fact, barbecue has been associated with roadside grub since the inception of the car [source: Jakle]. These roadside locations proved to appeal to hungry travelers and also were inexpensive compared to urban areas.
Essentially, barbecue is slow cooked pork (usually pulled pork or ribs) and, less commonly, beef and even chicken. It can be slathered in sweet and tangy "barbecue sauce" or dry with spices.
Many find barbecue so intoxicatingly delicious that they'll make road-trip pilgrimages to the famous spots in search of the best barbecue. The American South also hosts several annual barbecue competitions. Indeed, the hours of cooking needed to perfect many barbecue recipes is testament to how much people love the dish. Smoking meat for barbecue can often take anywhere from four to 16 hours.