An open pit barbecue for the 1953 opening of the Mathews Bridge. (Courtesy of the State Archives of Florida)

While regional styles have evolved over time, barbecue is a local cooking method and style of food that predates the City of Jacksonville by centuries. The origins of American barbecue can be traced to the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, which stretches along the Eastern coastline from North Florida to North Carolina.

Its roots are a combination of Native American, Spanish and African culinary heritage. The word “barbecue” comes from “barbakoa”, a term for open fire grilling used by the Taino people of the Caribbean, adopted into Spanish as “barbacoa”. The indigenous peoples of Florida, such as the Timucua, also slow cooked their meat and fish on grills over open fire. Learning how to barbecue hogs from Caribbean natives, the Spanish are said to have introduced the hog to Florida and the South around 1521.

Mocama Timucua smoking meat and fish over an open flame in the 1560s. Image by Theodor de Bry in 1591; claimed to be based on a lost painting by Fort Caroline colonist Jacques le Moyne. (Courtesy of the State Archives of Florida)

Prior to their arrival in the Americas, West and Central Africans had already mastered cooking wild game over open pits, and eating the smoked meat with sauces made from limes, lemons and hot peppers. According to Zora Neale Hurston, the enslaved then adapted and combined these techniques, leading to the various styles of American barbecue and sauces that we know and love today.

7. Woody’s Bar-B-Q - 1980

1638 University Blvd South Jacksonville, FL 32217

(Courtesy of Woody’s Bar-B-Q Facebook page)

Four decades ago, Woody and Yolanda Mills-Mawman decided they wanted to open up a restaurant. With a passion for Bar-B-Q and a handful of homemade recipes, they created a dining experience rooted in the South’s tradition of a Bar-B-Q shack. What started as a single restaurant in Jacksonville has now extended to one location in Pennsylvania and fifteen with three more on the way in Florida.

(Courtesy of Woody’s Bar-B-Q Facebook page)

No matter the location, each Woody’s is built to suit its own hometown atmosphere. Every Woody’s serves the finest cuts of meats and the freshest ingredients. Everything on the menu is a Woody’s original, from the secret-recipe homemade BBQ sauce, to their freshly prepared sides, and slow-smoked meats. The original location (pictured above), at University and Atlantic boulevards, was initially a Bono’s Pit Bar-B-Q before becoming Woody’s in 1980.

(Courtesy of Woody’s Bar-B-Q Facebook page)

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