BBQ History

I Say DeMaria, You Say DiMaria

In 1891, the S.S. Utopia departed Italy, headed for America. The ship, carrying 880 passengers, many of them Italian immigrants who boarded the Utopia in Naples or Palermo, was sailing through the port of Gibraltar when it struck another vessel. The hole created by the collision sunk the Utopia in just twenty minutes, and 562 passengers died. It was a tragedy chronicled by the New York Times, which reported that people aiding in the recovery effort found the passengers, who had been crammed below-deck…

Gobble, Gobble

Rose Diamond once ruled the world of smoked turkey. In 1938, customers in New York, Miami, and Hollywood enjoyed her smoked turkeys shipped out from her Fort Worth home. According to The Claude News, they brined for at last ten days before being smoked in a brick pit in Diamond’s backyard for the better part of a day. “Properly smoked turkey is a rare delicacy,” the paper reminded its readers. By the next year, the…

Governor Tryon’s Barbecue

Protest season seems to be upon us after the recent election. Citizens are taking to the streets to show their displeasure with a new leader, which isn’t anything new in the United States. Before the original Brexit united us, we were anything but polite. Of course you remember the Boston Tea Party, and you might even have retained some knowledge of the Stamp Act, but what about Governor Tryon’s Barbecue? It sounds festive enough, but the…

30 Years of Railhead Smokehouse

When Charlie Geren opened Railhead Smokehouse in Fort Worth, he had already failed at his previous attempt at the restaurant business. Geren said he had just “lost his ass” in a “steak and beer joint” in north Fort Worth, but decided to partner with a pitmaster friend, Harry Pilcher, to take over an empty beer barn. Thirty years later, Railhead is still a Fort Worth staple, and the spot where Geren gets lunch everyday when he’s in Fort Worth….

“Barbecue” is for Squares

I have a Twitter follower who, for a while, enjoyed pointing out when a barbecue joint spelled their name “incorrectly.” Presumably, “Barbecue” and “BBQ” were acceptable, but not “Barbeque,” “Bar-B-Q,” or its slight variation “Bar-B-Que.” He’s not alone. The AP Stylebook, generally used by journalists, doesn’t like those alternate spellings either, as they tweeted last year: AP Style tip: barbecue is cooking foods over flame or hot coals. Noun refers to both meat cooked and fire…

Eugene “Hot Sauce” Williams

The contributions of African Americans to our country’s barbecue culture are often overlooked. The influences can be hard to trace, which make it tempting to ignore them. Throughout Texas and the rest of the country, records of black barbecue culture are either gone or never existed in the first place. Most newspapers and magazines were written by and for whites, and mentions of black men and women making real social contributions were few, especially when it comes to restaurants. It…

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