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: Maybe its just since I’ve been paying attention more, but the past few years has seen an explosion of barbecue books in conjunction with the barbecue boom. “Praise The Lard: Recipes and Revelations from a Legendary Life in Barbecue” by the late Mike Mills and his daughter and business partner Amy came out in 2017 and is their second book after 2005’s “Peace, Love, & Barbecue” and was on the front edge of the recent barbecue book trend.
Mike and Amy are able to set their book apart from some of those other books by managing to infuse their voice throughout the book instead of just in an introductory chapter or two. Of course there is that chapter that explains how the barbecue restaurant got started after finding success on the competition circuit. But unlike some other books I’ve read recently, they return throughout the rest of the book.
They connect their recipes to their family history and speaking of history, they sprinkle a little bit of the history of their town Murphysboro, IL throughout the book.
They also aren’t shy about shouting out brands they use, which I actually think is one of the best parts of the book. From seasonings and spices to specialty sodas to cookware to barbecue gear and gadgets, they’ve got a multiple page list in the back that shows you where to get that they prefer. Of course they also have that list on their website so you don’t need the physical book for that.
Another standout is the photography by the always-excellent Ken Goodman, who also did Ed Randolph’s “Smoked” book in 2019.
Sadly, Mike Mills passed away in December 2020 but he was truly a towering figure in the world of barbecue. “Praise the Lard” is a small but worthy part of his legacy.
Would I add this to my bookshelf?
More than most recent books, the answer is possibly yes. Actually, I might want to check out “Peace, Love, and Barbecue” first and then make a decision.
Congrats to Bryan Furman of B’s Cracklin’ Barbeque for his James Beard Award semifinal nomination!
Veteran Charlotte restaurateur Pierre Bader closes City Smoke, cites that he doesn’t “see any growth in the barbecue business in Charlotte.” I would argue that he might have seen growth had his restaurant’s barbecue been better (they were 40 out of 42 on our list before their close)
Food and Wine is loving Columbia, SC and thinks you should try to the hash: “Don’t fill up on grits, because you must also try the barbecue, which will be pork, served along with that could-stop-traffic yellow sauce, and a side of that curiously delicious regional specialty, hash, which is nearly always served over rice. Essentially a stew of all the animal parts you probably wouldn’t eat separately, hash might come off a tad musky for some, but this is nose-to-tail cooking at its finest.”
I wonder how the folks in Texas are reacting to this:
For Kathleen Purvis’s last story as Charlotte Observer food writer, she takes a look at the fried pork skins at Sweet Lew’s BBQ as well as the fried chicken skin from Yolk. I love her writing and look forward to seeing what she does next.
– This month’s barbecue photographer is Ken Goodman, who had some nice photos from this year’s Whole Hog Extravaganza at 17th Street Bar & Grill in Murphysboro, IL including this great one of Sam Jones with his double cleavers
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