smoak \ ˈsmōk \:
A few years back, Jessica gifted to Ken Joseph R. Haynes's book, Virginia Barbecue: A History, for Father's Day. We had recently moved to Virginia from Alabama (after a 16,000 mile bbq tour of the US), and we wondered why Virginia lacked a distinct barbecue profile of its own. Reading Haynes's book, we learned about Virginia's rich barbecue history and unique style and found his argument for the birthplace of American barbecue logical and convincing.
Brainstorming ideas for a place of our own, Jessica drew inspiration from Joseph's book. One of the first documented mentions of American barbecue was a letter from a young lady in Virginia to her brother back in England in the early 1800s. In the letter, she describes a "County Barbecue". She describes the whole smoaked cows and pigs and the hundreds of people who attended. During that period, towns would have had a "county smoakhouse" where you would bring your butchered animals from your farm to be smoaked for preservation . Once they were smoaked, customers would take the meat home to last them through the cold months.
Barbecue has always centered around people, community and fellowship. Whether providing sustenance, celebrating life's most important events or even creating a platform for political campaigning (very effective during the 19th century!), barbecue has woven a common thread through the human experience, and that's what makes it so special for us! Naming our own venture "County Smoak", we give a nod to the history of Virginia Barbecue and its traditions, while forging ahead for our own community here in Lynchburg and Central Virginia.