Just what the heck is Barbacoa? Is it a dish? Is it a style of cooking? Barbacoa is actually a Spanish word that means – you guessed it – barbecue. It’s actually not Spanish in origins, but rather a type of cooking that originated in the Caribbean with the Taino people. Today in contemporary Mexico, Barbacoa generally refers to meats or a whole sheep that is slow-cooked over an open fire, or more traditionally, in a hole dug in the ground, then covered with Maguey leaves much like a roasted pork in the tropics of the South Pacific. Barbacoa is often prepared with parts from the heads of cattle, such as cheeks, or from the heads of goats. In central Mexico, the meat of choice is a lamb, and in the Yucatan, it is prepared with a pig. The meat is known for its high fat content, strong flavors; often accompanied by onions and cilantro.