The custom of basting fish and large pieces of meat with a special sauce and cooking them over an outdoor fire was adapted first from the Taino Indians of the island of Hispaniola.
From the Taino language the word barbecue passed into the English language via the Spanish barbacoa. According to early explorers' accounts and early engravings from the Caribbean, the Indians used this method to roast whole leg of human. Even though there is no evidence that the Tainos or any Caribs ever ate human flesh, this image of the human barbecue gained wide notoriety in Europe. Caribale, the Spanish word for a Caribbean, soon became synonymous with man-eater and passed into English as the word "cannibal," thus giving "cannibal" and "barbecue" a shared etymology
Different regions of the United States adapted the art of bar-becuing to different styles and different sauces. North Carolina developed a vinegar-and-pepper sauce, while South Carolina still uses its own peculiar blend of mustard and molasses. The tomato sauces, however, became the most common and today are virtually synonymous with barbecue. In addition to the barbecue sauces, American cuisine uses related sauces such as catsup and meat sauces that are primarily tomato- or pepper-based.