In honor of our Book Club post on John Shelton Reed’s Barbecue cookbook earlier this week, here’s a link to a podcast interview of the man from WUNC’s “The State of Things” podcast recorded last year. The barbecue-specific portion begins at 25:47.
John Shelton Reed did not think of himself as a southerner until his classmates at MIT pointed it out.
The Tennessee native was going to school in the northeast just as the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s took off. It was the beginning of a career dedicated to the study of southern culture.
He came to it as a kind of outsider in his own home but quickly returned to his roots, helped create the Center for the Study of the American South at UNC-Chapel Hill, and has become one of the preeminent voices on the “correct” way to make North Carolina barbecue.
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: The Savor the South cookbook series from the University of North Carolina Press covers one “beloved food or tradition” of the South at a time (like bourbon or pecans – those books are written by Charlotte Observer food writer Kathleen Purvis). One of the latest in the series from 2016 is “Barbecue” from John Shelton Reed, who along with his wife wrote one of my favorite barbecue books ever, “Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue” back in 2008.
Reed acknowledges that the world doesn’t necessarily need another barbecue cookbook – heck, he himself already owns a couple dozen – which is why I appreciate that he attempts to make this particular cookbook more educational than the average one. In his usual dry humor tone, Reed gives a baseline of the history of southern barbecue in the Introduction chapter before exploring the variations in meats and sauces in the subsequent chapters. Finally, he moves on to sides and ultimately desserts by the end of the book.
I may or may not get around to the trying some of the recipes, but the history and education is what really makes “Barbecue” a good read.
– Congrats to chef/pit master Elliott Moss on his James Beard nomination for Best Chef: Southeast
– Could he win it like Aaron Franklin did two years ago?
– Marie, Let’s Eat! (the blog) turned 7 so they counted down the best barbecue in East Tennessee since they moved there last year
– Thrillist has a list of the most iconic restaurants in every state (and DC), which includes barbecue restaurants for NC and SC both
– Though Kathleen Purvis from the Charlotte Observer thinks maybe they should have looked past barbecue restaurants for each state
– Nice shot:
– Barbecue (the documentary film) will be the very first film premiering at SXSW
-The True Cue guys are at it again, trying to make the fourth Monday in February a new barbecue-related NC holiday
But Reed and Levine also educate us about the connection between politics and barbecue. Their search for such connections took them all the way back to late February of 1766 when “the Royal Governor of North Carolina, William Tryon, attempted to win the New Hanover militia’s good will by treating them to a barbecue. He did not succeed: citizens of Wilmington threw the barbecued ox in the river and poured out the beer. (This was not an early expression of North Carolinians’ preference for pork; they were upset about the Stamp Act.)”
Reed and Levine explain that this “expression” of discontent with British authority came seven years before “the Boston Tea Party of 1773, when some rowdy New Englanders threw boxes of tea in Boston harbor to protest a British tax.”
– From BBQ Hub
Here’s some gift ideas for the barbecue lover in your life. The bolded items are the ones I can personally recommend. Feel free to add or suggest any other gift ideas in the comments below and I’ll update the post through the holidays.
See our 2015 gift guide here
See our 2014 gift guide here
See our 2013 gift guide here
- Buxton Hall Barbecue’s Book of Smoke: Wood-Smoked Meats, Sides, and More by Elliott Moss (new)
- Barbecue: a Savor the South cookbook by John Shelton Reed (new)
- The One True Barbecue: Fire, Smoke, and the Pitmasters Who Cook Whole Hog by Rien Fertel (new)
- North Carolina’s Roadside Eateries by D.G. Martin (new)
- The 100 Best Barbecue Restaurants in America by Johnny Fugitt
- Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue by John Shelton Reed and Dale Volberg Reed
- Bob Garner’s Book of Barbecue: North Carolina’s Favorite Food by Bob Garner
- The Best Tar Heel Barbecue: From Manteo to Murphy by Jim Early
- Barbecue Crossroads: Notes and Recipes from a Southern Odyssey by Robb Walsh
- Barbecue: The History of an American Institution by Robert Moss
- Carolina ‘Cue by Our State Magazine (or directly from Our State)
- The Prophets of Smoked Meat: A Journey Through Texas Barbecue by Daniel Vaughn
- Peace, Love, & Barbecue: Recipes, Secrets, Tall Tales, and Outright Lies from the Legends of Barbecue by Mike Mills
- Barbecue Lover’s the Carolinas: Restaurants, Markets, Recipes & Traditions by Robert Moss
- Franklin Barbecue: A Meat Smoking Manifesto by Aaron Franklin
- Southern Living Ultimate Book of BBQ: The Complete Year-Round Guide to Grilling and Smoking by The Editors of Southern Living
- Foods that Make You Say Mmm-mmm by Bob Garner
– John Shelton Reed expands on his Hillary/Midwood vs Trump/Stamey’s theory though I must admit I hate to see Midwood Smokehouse get dragged into this
– Grant’s latest barbecue joints includes a visit to the Atlanta outpost of B’s Cracklin’ Barbecue which looks awesome
Now, let’s step aside from talking about this restaurant and the trip and let’s look at the big picture. Four months in Tennessee and the barbecue that I’ve found has been a few pretty good places, a bunch of so-so ones, and a handful of unspeakable disappointments. Nine hours in Georgia and one, two, three, that’s a hat trick, three barbecue meals better than any that I’ve had since moving. Now, next week, I’ll tell you about a very good place we’ve found in Chattanooga, by far my favorite in the city. But as much as I enjoyed it, it is still not anywhere close to being as good as Cleve Edmunds, or Heavy’s, or B’s. My search continues.
– Grant’s other recent reviews: Heavy’s Bar-B-Q in Crawfordville, GA and Old Plantation Bar-Be-Que in Chattanooga, TN
– Q-4-Fun reviews Texas-style joint The Beast in Paris (France not Texas) and had “the best beef rib [he’s] ever had” (again, France not Texas)
– In case you need some barbecue book recommendations for gifts, the BBQ Hub has you covered:
– Kathleen Purvis, ladies and gentlemen
– A few more stops in the Carolina’s for Grant: Stephenson’s Bar-B-Q in Willow Spring, Skylight Inn in Ayden, and Sweatman’s Bar-B-Que down in Holly Hill, SC
– Robert Moss has an introduction to Georgia BBQ to kickoff Georgia BBQ Week, which Grant will surely love
– Coming to West Nashville soon from Pitmaster Pat Martin
– Daniel Vaughn of TMBBQ muses on a couple of easy rules for barbecue line etiquette
– From last month, Destination BBQ has an interview with Daniel Doyle of Poogan’s Smokehouse in Charleston
– The highly-anticipated Scott’s BBQ has broken ground at its Charleston location
– John Shelton Reed has a pretty out there barbecue theory on why Donald Trump carried the state of NC and I’ll just let him have at it
The latest, he told me the other day, was Hillary Clinton’s choice of a barbecue stop in Charlotte at the end of the presidential campaign. She and President Obama ate at the Midwood Smokehouse. It has a varied and upscale menu, but it is not a traditional barbecue eatery. Meanwhile, Donald Trump was buying one of those $3.50 barbecue sandwiches at Stamey’s in Greensboro.
“Maybe Clinton’s choice sold in Charlotte,” Reed said, “but the rest of the state was thinking Drumpf was eating at a real North Carolina barbecue stop, a big reason he won and she lost.
– Per Raleigh Eats, Ed Mitchell’s Que is returning, this time to the Brier Creek neighborhood in Raleigh
– Southern Smoke BBQ in Garland is one of 6 Farm-to-Table Restaurants in Eastern NC to Try This Summer
Matthew and Jessica work with farms in their area and around the state to source the best and freshest seasonal ingredients for their businesses. Matthew works with a young farmer named Caleb Johnson, a graduate of North Carolina State University, and his farm: AJ Family Farms. He will check in with Caleb regularly to see what’s in season, and come up with dishes based on the weather. “I buy whatever he’s got,” Matthew says of Caleb’s farm. “Last week he had beautiful green tomatoes, so we did a corn and green tomato succotash over grits. That’s kind of my approach.”
– John Shelton Reed thinks NC needs a new holiday commemorating the Wilmington Barbecue of 1766
– Mac’s Speed Shop in Charlotte may be expanding its original South End location
– Brisket +Tacos = Crazy Delicious
– An excerpt from Rien Fertel’s new book “The One True Barbecue” on Ricky Scott
– Speaking of Fertel’s new book, Rodney Scott is bringing his whole hog to Charleston’s Butcher & Bee for a book signing
– However, not all reactions to “The One True Barbecue” have been positive; Ed Mitchell and Wilber Shirley each took exception to how there were portrayed negatively in the book but not interviewed for it
– Buxton Hall Barbecue is throwing a 5 course dinner with whiskey, beer, and barbecue:
– Grant continues his barbecue tour of the NC Piedmont (that neither Speedy nor Monk were unable to join him on any part of, sadly): Smiley’s in Lexington, Fuzzy’s in Madison, Stamey’s in Greensboro, and Little Richard’s in Winston-Salem
– On his book blog, Grant also reviews a new barbecue book, “The One True Barbecue” by Rien Fertels, who along with photographer Denny Culbert was behind The Barbecue Bus
– The book is also included in this rundown along with John Shelton Reed’s upcoming book Barbecue
– Robert Moss posits that wood v gas is perhaps the wrong question when it comes to barbecue
– Shots fired from Alton Brown at unnamed southern barbecue restaurants
“It’s funny with barbecue, because the most beloved barbecue places in the South, by and large, serve the shittiest barbecue. I will stand by that. Places that people will drive hours to get to, barbecue’s not that great, but it’s still there. It’s been there. My mom brought me here. My grandparents are from here.?
– In case you were wondering what “Cleveland-style barbecue” was again…
You’re calling the food at Mabel’s “Cleveland-style barbecue.” What does that mean, exactly?
We’re inspired more by Eastern Europe than the South in our flavor profile. Cleveland is a big Eastern European melting pot, so I wanted to offer a menu that reflected the cuisine. For instance, instead of hot links, we serve kielbasa. Our spice blends, our sides… they’re very reminiscent of what you’d find in Cleveland, like smoked beets with horseradish, sauerkraut and Cleveland brown mustard. We’re also smoking with apple and cherry woods, which are native to the region.
– North Carolina, y’all:
– Midwood Smokehouse is opening its 3rd Charlotte-area location at the Park Road Shopping Center later this year
– A new barbecue and music venue called Raleigh Roadhouse sets its grand opening April 1-2 in Raleigh on Glenwood Avenue
– John Shelton Reed’s upcoming Barbecue book is included in this rundown of upcoming books
– Grant visits Archer’s BBQ in Knoxville, a small regional chain
– Daniel Vaughn visits The Beast, a Texas-style joint in Paris, and is pleasantly surprised
– The Central Carolina BBQ Academy has begun meeting in Dunn at the old Harnett High School (for now)
In a small, smoky room of a long-closed school, Gregory Hamm is teaching heresy. His disciples, long familiar with the eastern Carolina dogma of barbecue, are being taught that there’s more to perfect pork than vinegar.
– Hugh Mangum of Mighty Quinn’s has Houston roots
– Southern chefs (and a couple barbecue men) ponder whats next for southern food
– John Shelton Reed of True Cue in the New York Times on North Carolina and the Politics of Barbecue
– Thrillist releases the 2016 Best BBQ in America and it includes 4 from NC: Lexington Barbecue, Allen & Son in Chapel Hill, Red Bridges in Shelby, and Skylight Inn in Ayden; there’s also a bracket contest you can vote in
– Local coverage of Allen & Son making the list
– Thrillist Charlotte’s list of best barbecue restaurants in the city include a closed restaurant (Bobbee O’s), a national chain (Jim N Nick’s), and a few other questionable choices
– Grant visits Carl’s Drive-Inn near Knoxville, which despite some old signage doesn’t actually sell its own pit-cooked barbecue anymore
– Queen City Q’s Whiskey & BBQ event is tonight
– Meanwhile, Midwood Smokehouse’s Wine & Swine Dinner (also tonight) is sold out:
– Speaking of wine and barbecue, the future of barbecue in Charleston after this past weekend’s Charleston Wine + Food Festival
The Charleston Wine + Food events, I think, offered a sort of preview of the future of barbecue in one of the South’s great culinary cities. At least a half dozen new barbecue joints have opened in the city in the past year, and several more are still in the works. Their fare is as diverse and ambitious as the dishes served up at the festival, and in an upcoming installment we’ll take a survey of this evolving Charleston barbecue restaurant scene.