Many Americans in cooler regions have barbecues only throughout the warm seasons, or all year in the South and California, with barbecue cookouts part of a picnic or the family meal at home. The big holidays for barbecuing and picnicking are theMemorial Day weekend and the Fourth of July Independence Day celebration. Americans barbecue meats such as chicken, beef, lamb, and pork, and also fish and vegetables. In addition, during the fall and winter holidays, people in the southern regions of the country also tend to barbecue whole turkeys. Barbecue cookoff competitions are very common throughout the southern half of the country, and more recently have gained exposure in the northern part of the mainland country and into Hawaii and even Canada and beyond.
Meats have been cooked over open flames by the Aboriginal peoples of Canada since the beginning of the human habitation of North America. US-style barbecue culture is a recent import to Canada, having been introduced only following the Second World War. Its arrival coincided with the commercially-driven popularization of a type of “domestic masculinity” for middle-class suburban fathers in the 1950s. This was a sharp break with the Canadian tradition, however, and as late as 1955 an article in Maclean’s called the practise “weird”. Therefore “barbecue” (in one sense) cannot said to be a deeply-held Canadian tradition. Yet by the late 1950s the barbecue, once a fad, had become a permanent part of Canadian summers.
Canadian barbecue takes many influences from its American neighbour, but also takes influences from British, Central European, and Euro-Mediterranean barbecue styles. The most common items cooked on a Canadian barbecue are chicken, burgers, ribs, steaks, sausages, and shish kebabs. Barbecue sauce is either brushed on when the meats are cooking, or before the meats are served. As in the United States, barbecue cook-off competitions are quite common. Barbecue cookouts, either pit-smoking, baking, grilling (charbroiling, gridironing, or griddling), or braising (by putting a broth-filled pot on top of a charbroil-grill or gridiron-grill), can also be combined with picnics, again the same as in the United States.
Regional varieties are present between provinces, as well as regionally within provinces. Since mass consumer society allows once traditional local products to be sold in all regions, these are to be considered stereotypical examples only. British Columbian barbecues would most likely feature salmon and chicken cooked indirectly on a cedar plank, a method indigenous to the Pacific coast. Those of the Prairie Provinces would like feature beef steaks and sausage. Ontario barbecues are more likely to contain bbq ribs and burgers. Quebec-style barbecue draws closer and greater influences in style from European and Mediterranean grilling, baking, and braising traditions and Louisiana barbecue, which likewise is also distinct from the barbecue styles of the rest of the American Deep South due to the influences of the unique regional cuisines of the state: Cajun cuisine and Louisiana Creole cuisine, which both descend from French and other Central European and Euro-Mediterranean cuisines. In addition to rubs and sauces, the meats are marinated in various mixtures containing olive oil and citrus juices, persillade is often added as a garnish, and meat skewers, called brochettes (French) or souvlakis (Greek), are also very common.
In Mexico the Horno is a traditional earthen barbecue tradition. Carne asada (literally meaning “roasted meat”) consists of marinated cuts of beef rubbed with salt and pepper, and then grilled. Normally, it is accompanied with tortillas and grilled onions and bell peppers sometimes as well. This dish is now extremely popular in the entire country; although it is widely believed to have originated in the northern part of Mexico, it is now found almost everywhere in Mexico and the southwestern U.S. Additionally, there are several other types of meats that are barbecued in Mexico, depending on the geographic region. In the northern part of the country, Cabrito is a popular barbecue dish, which consists of an entire kid goat, minus head, hooves and entrails (except the kidneys), slowly grilled/smoked on an open charcoal grill. The kidneys release a strong desired flavor as the carcass is slowly cooking over the fire. A somewhat similar dish popular all over the country is barbacoa, which is sheep meat slowly cooked over an open flame, or more traditionally, in a fire pit. Also, like in many other places in Latin America, there is a strong tradition in Mexico of preparing pollo asado (roasted halved chicken) on mesquite charcoal-fired grills after the chicken meat has been marinated overnight in an often secretly-guarded-recipe adobo sauce.
In addition to carne asada, there are several types of beef, chicken and pork, as well as sausages (such as (chorizo, moronga, etc.) that are grilled during back yard or picnic-style events, commonly referred to as “parrilladas”. Some types of vegetables may be grilled alongside the meat, most commonly green onions, bell peppers and chile peppers, commonly referred to in Mexico as chiles toreados, or “bull-fought chiles”. Quesadillas often and tortillas always accompany the consumption of grilled meat at these events, as well as soft drinks for children and alcoholic beverages for adults.