This quintessential style of American cooking should never ever be confused with grilling. To make this error while traveling in the south is tantamount to insulting your host’s wife or kicking his dog. The savvy grubster simply does not make this gaffe.
This style of low temperature smoke cooking developed in the American Southeast as way of cooking cheaper cuts of meats that require longer cooking times (four to six hours on average) at lower temperatures. Cuts like brisket, pork butt, and baby back ribs which tend to be tougher and higher in fat come alive when cooked at temperatures near the boiling point. Slow cooking allows the tough meat to soften to the point of becoming succulent while melting the fat out.
Additionally, the fire imbues the meat with an aroma of smoke which wil be as distinctive as the wood used. Fruit and citrus woods are recommended. Soft woods and treated lumber should absolutely be avoided.