Not that we’re 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.
Monk: Two of the most highly anticipated barbecue books of the year came out within a few weeks of each other, with “Rodney Scott’s World of BBQ” by Rodney Scott and Lolis Eric Elie coming out first on March 16 followed by Adrian Miller’s “Black Smoke: African Americans and the United States of Barbecue” on April 27.
The first half of Rodney’s book is all memoir, recounting his origins in tiny Hemingway, SC working at Scott’s Bar-B-Que the family barbecue restaurant and convenience store. The story of how he got from there to co-owning Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog BBQ in Charleston, Birmingham, and Atlanta (with two more Alabama locations planned just this year) is fairly well worn territory if you’ve heard an interview or watched Netflix’s “Chef’s Table: BBQ.” What’s not as familiar or well-known is Scott’s current family dynamic, particularly with his father Roosevelt “Rosie” Scott.
In sometimes painful detail, Scott and Elie describe how the breakdown of their relationship started with some mistrust as a result of Scott’s budding barbecue celebrity. Even though all of his work and travel was on behalf of the family business, false accusations and rumors began to circulate in their small town. And that ultimately led to a severing of his relationship with his father and Scott departing for Charleston and starting his budding barbecue restaurant empire. His current relationship with both his father and mother is nonexistent as of the writing of this book and the press tours he’s done this spring.
The book is written in Scott’s voice, which can surely be attributed to Elie’s help. Scott’s mantra is “Every Day is a Good Day” and that blue skies philosophy is clear when reading his writing. A cookbook written by Scott himself was surely a draw, but adding in an accomplished writer such as Elie only added to the appeal. Lolis wrote a seminal text in “Smokestack Lightning: Adventures in the Heart of Barbecue Country” back in 2005, a book that has been on my radar for quite some time.
The second half of the book is all recipes, starting with how to set up and smoke a whole hog on a cinder block pit in great detail (similar to what Sam Jones and Elliot Moss described in their respective books). From there, it’s all Scott’s menu and point of view, informed by his Pee Dee South Carolina origins.
While Adrian Miller’s “Black Smoke” traced the history and contributions of African Americans to barbecue’s history, Scott’s book actually makes some history of its own, being the first barbecue book by a black pitmaster/chef ever (think about that). “Rodney Scott’s World of BBQ” is a must read barbecue book that gives you just as much insight into the man behind the barbecue empire as well as his food.