Barbacoa is generally credited to the Mexican culture, but the term barbacoa originated in the Caribbean. As the traditional cooking method arrived with Caribbean people, voluntarily and otherwise, the term “barbecue” was born in the American South. In Mexico, barbacoa traditionally refers to whole, portioned beef, sheep or goat slow-cooked in a pit covered with maguey leaves. However, I’ve eaten a lot of delicious barbacoa in pit-less establishments that forego whole-animal butchery, leading me to believe that slowly steamed meats can be rendered tender and unctuous otherwise, although less romantically. Learn more about the process of cooking barbacoa here.