In the inimitable words of the Always Hungry reviewer: "It’s not as offensive as you’d expect."
I'll put that down as a ringing endorsement.
The word barbecue comes from the Taino Indians in the Caribbean, where it was the name for a frame of green sticks that was used both as a sleeping platform and for smoking or drying meat. Initially, the word had the dual meaning of a physical piece of equipment and a method of cooking. The English version first appeared in print in Edmund Hickeringill’s travel narrative Jamaica Viewed (1661), which described the hunting of animals as, “Some are slain, And their flesh forthwith Barbacu’d and eat.” Though initially encountered on Caribbean islands such as Jamaica, Western explorers recorded both the word (often spelled “borbecue” or “barbecu”) and the technique being used by Indians ranging from New England to Guiana in South America.
By the end of the 17th century the word barbecue was no longer limited to travel narratives but had moved into the common usage as a synonym for roasting or grilling, even outside the context of food. In Aphra Behn's play The Widow Ranter (1690) a riotous crowd seizes a rebel and demands, “Let’s barbicu this fat Rogue.” Cotton Mather used the term to describe the burning deaths of Pilgrims in Massachusetts: “When they came to see the bodies of so many of their countrymen terribly barbikew’d.” Although “barbecue” would continue to be used in Europe in the general sense of “roast”, it was in the American colonies that it truly took hold and acquired a range of specific meanings.The engraving below was made in 1590 by Theodor de Bry, who based his image on a watercolor of the scene by English artist John White, who sailed with Richard Grenville in 1588 to explore the coast of present-day North Carolina: