Not that I’m anywhere close to being qualified enough to evaluate books but more so as a public service announcement we will periodically discuss barbecue and barbecue-related books. First up is what I would consider an essential book to understanding barbecue.
In order to better understand where barbecue is heading today, I think its vital to understand the history and foundation of barbecue in the US. Robert Moss is a barbecue historian from Charleston and the current barbecue editor of Southern Living Magazine, so he is as qualified as any to write about the origins of barbecue in the United States and how the regional styles popped up. And that is exactly what he does in Barbecue: An American Institution. In it, he traces the Caribbean origins of the word to the American roots in Virginia – thats right, South Carolina, you are decidedly not the birthplace of barbecue despite what your ludicrous campaign says – through the decline during the fast food era and its current rebirth.
Moss’s book is comprehensive in its documentation of barbecue’s trends across America, and while it does devote some space to detailing the regional styles of barbecue (North Carolina, Texas, South Carolina, etc) if you are looking for more in-depth knowledge about a particular style you will have to look elsewhere. Still, this is as good a starting place as ever if you are looking to read up on American barbecue. Lots of great archival photos and ads are sprinkled throughout as are some barbecue-related recipes. Highly recommended.