Pit’s new issue (complete with redesign by Holly Catford) is BBQ focused. With summer almost underway, it’s an ideal subject – as Helen Graves says in her editor’s letter, ‘Hopefully, as readers of a magazine about live fire cooking, you all have an opportunity to get outside and cook, be it on a cramped balcony… or in an actual garden.’
This issue opens with an investigation into the history of barbecue with Adrian Miller’s article ‘Mothers, Daughters, Sisters, Grillers’. There is a distinctively global image associated with barbecuing – that of a white suburban dad clad in cargo shorts emerging sweatily through the (Homebase-purchased) fire and brimstone, burnt meat held aloft. Yet, as Miller says ‘exclusively hyping barbecue as a man’s domain doesn’t quite square with the African American experience’.
Miller opens by waxing lyrical about his upbringing in Denver, Colorado. ‘Over the double oil drum smoker’, his family would celebrate each and every American holiday. And as for Miller’s father? ‘he ceded the grill to my Mom’. When researching his latest book, Miller found that this wasn’t just a tradition in his own family – barbecue culture was largely developed by black women.
I won’t impart every detail of this fascinating story, but Miller’s article takes us from the 19th century through to today, highlighting the overlooked African American women who shaped this culinary tradition along the way. Special mention also goes out to Olivia Waller, whose illustrations beautifully accompany the piece in shades of pink, red and brown, each one flecked with tiny stars.
The redesign has brought a looser feel to the design: round-cornered picture and tint boxes, and angled headlines using new typeface Doyle.
Elsewhere in the mag, editor Helen Graves takes us to Portugal to explore the history of piri piri chicken (above) and Nicola Miller investigates the iced tea and cola of the American South – an indispensable part of any grilled meal. It seems this issue has all stations covered: there are articles on brining, chillies, and charcoal and recipes for mackerel, duck eggs and ribs. I don’t even eat meat, but I did love the article ‘How to: not look like an idiot when you serve wings’ (below).
This is such a joyful edition of Pit – combining history, recipes, advice, illustrations and a sense of humour to produce exactly the kind of publication we all need as lockdown begins to be released.