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Feasting on Culture: A Review of Barbecue Documentary

"Barbecue": A global exploration of food, culture, and identity.

Keywords: Barbecue, Culture, Documentary, Food, Global, Tradition, Identity, Community, Connection


"Barbecue", a 2017 documentary directed by Matthew Salleh, takes viewers on a global culinary journey through twelve countries. The film explores the cultural significance of barbecue, a cooking method that dates back to our earliest ancestors. In today's globalized world, understanding the diverse traditions of food preparation is not only a gastronomical delight but also a means of cultural exchange.


"Barbecue" is an around-the-world tour of barbecue culture. From the heart of Texas to the Syrian refugee camps in Lebanon, the film uncovers the rich diversity and deep significance of barbecue in different cultures.

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The documentary uses an observational approach, allowing the subjects to speak for themselves without much interference from the filmmakers. The research is thorough, and the depth of exploration into each culture's barbecue tradition is impressive. The film's presentation style is visually appealing, with panoramic shots of various landscapes accompanying the stories told around the fire.

Historical and Factual Context


Barbecue has roots in many ancient cultures. It is believed to have originated when our ancestors began cooking meat over an open flame. Over time, different regions developed their unique methods and traditions around this primal cooking technique.

Key themes in the film

  • The universality of food as a means of connection
  • The unique cultural nuances in barbecue traditions
  • The role of food in identity and belonging

Film Comparisons

Unlike other food documentaries on iWonder, "Barbecue" focuses less on the food itself and more on its cultural implications. It explores the barbecue as a social event, a symbol of community, and a rite of passage in many cultures.

Noteworthy Moments

One significant moment is when a Syrian refugee shares his story of cooking barbecue in a camp in Lebanon, highlighting the power of food in bringing comfort and a sense of normalcy in dire circumstances.


The documentary has been well received, with an IMDB score of 6.5. Critics have praised the film's visual appeal and its insightful exploration of barbecue culture around the world.


"Barbecue" is an enlightening documentary that offers a unique perspective on a familiar subject. Food enthusiasts, culture buffs, and those with a curiosity for human stories will find this film particularly engaging.

More film information:


  • IMDB score: 6.5
  • Rotten Tomatoes score: Not available
  • Metacritic score: Not available
  • Film festival awards: 1 nomination


  • Matthew Salleh: Director
  • Various barbecue cooks and enthusiasts from around the world


  • Texas, US
  • Lebanon
  • Various other locations across 12 countries

Key Questions Raised by the Film

  • How does food shape our cultural identity?
  • How do different cultures interpret and practice the same cooking method?

I wonder what the film would be in another art form

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If this film were:

  1. A famous book, it would be "Around the World in 80 Days" for its global journey through different cultures.
  2. A famous song, it would be "We Are the World" for its celebration of global unity and diversity.
  3. A famous piece of art, it would be a mosaic, representing a multitude of individual pieces coming together to form a whole.
  4. A famous celebrity, it would be Anthony Bourdain for his love of food and cultural exploration.
  5. A color, it would be a warm orange, embodying the glow of a barbecue fire and the warmth of shared meals.
  6. A music style, it would be folk music, for its roots in cultural traditions and storytelling.