| Expert: Tupelo hosted first pork barbecue in Mississippi |
1/17/2007 5:46:07 AM
TUPELO - Tupelo could make a very good case for the first pork barbecue in Mississippi, according to an archaeologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Sam Brookes, heritage program manager for the National Forests in Mississippi, on Tuesday told a group of about 75 people at the Cellular South Networking at Noon event about the memorable meal started by explorer Hernando DeSoto.
According to Brookes, DeSoto was traveling with 400 Spanish range pigs to feed his troops. In December 1540, he stopped south of Tupelo in the Black Prairie near a Chickasaw village. Brookes said the Native American group was "very fond of pork," an item not found in the area, and often would eat the pork while it was still almost raw. However, this time the Chickasaws and DeSoto rigged up a primitive barbecue cooking apparatus, and the Chickasaws covered the pork with a mixture of tomatoes and peppers, items that were only found in the New World.
The exact site of the event has not been found yet, but Brookes said it would be "just south" of Tupelo.
The story was one of many he told to attendees in the BancorpSouth Conference Center as proof that Northeast Mississippi is rich with cultural events that could draw heritage and cultural tourism to the area. He said the Chickasaw history is a strong contender along with the Tupelo Automobile Museum, Tupelo Hardware Co. and Elvis' birthplace.
"People want to come and see that and spend money on that," Brookes said.
Brooke's comments dovetail with an ongoing effort from the Mississippi Hills Heritage Area Alliance to promote historical, cultural and natural heritage in 30 North Mississippi counties.