You may have been born too late for radical chic, but you’re just in time for, uh, radical chicory? Yes, Bobby Seale, founding chairman and national organizer of the Black Panther Party, has a cookbook, cooking show and “BobbyQue” website, all devoted to the lost art of barbecue (or “barbeque,” as he insists it should be spelled). Seale has even formulated his culinary principles in the “Barbeque Bill of Rights”:
WHEN IN THE COURSE OF HUMAN DEVELOPMENT it becomes necessary for us, the citizens of the earth, to creatively improve the culinary art of barbe-que’n in our opposition to the overly commercialized bondage of “cue-be-rab” (barbecuing backwards); and to assume, within the realm of palatable biological reactions to which the laws of nature and nature’s God entitle us, a decent respect for all the billions of human taste buds and savory barbeque desires; we the people declare a basic barbeque bill of rights which impels us to help halt, eradicate, and ultimately stamp out “cue-be-rab!”
As the commercialized backwards “bottle-back” recipe methods pursue and invariably evince a design to reduce our backyard-picnics into burnt, half done, bland, badly seasoned, improperly pit-qued entrees, then it is the right of we the barbeque lovers of the world, to alter the cue-be-rab phenomenon and creatively change our recipe process for a more righteous saucy, down-home, wood-smoking, delectable, baste-marinating, barbeque’n methodology.
Seale oversaw one of the Black Panthers’ most ambitious and popular projects, the People’s Free Food Program.
Filmed in front of a live studio audience in Philadelphia, Barbeque with Bobby Seale is co-hosted by Seale and his wife Leslie. Sun Ra Arkestra trombonist Tyrone Hill and his band, the Deep Space Posse, are live in the studio. You can watch the cooking show on Seale’s YouTube channel. (The video is low-resolution and the sound is out of sync—if you want a hi-fi experience, it looks like you’ll have to buy the DVD.) Meat-eating radicals can find six free recipes here and a couple more here. You’ll have to tell me what it tastes like; I’m vegetarian.
As you will have guessed, not everyone loves the idea of one of the world’s most famous black revolutionaries selling BBQ recipes, though accusing Seale of “selling out” by writing a cookbook strikes me as more than a little silly. When the first edition of Barbeque’n with Bobby was published in 1988, Seale told the Chicago Tribune that Jerry Rubin first suggested the idea while the two were in jail during the Chicago Conspiracy Trial. Seale talks about how he responds to cries of “sellout” in this interview clip: