I read your plea, John T. Edge. Until now I’ve been a great admirer of your writing. It’s hard to read the words without hearing your buttery Southern intonation like the read-along records of my youth. It is through your articles and lectures that I’ve learned much of what I know of barbecue in the American South. You know from our conversations that I love a good bite of outside brown meat in the Piedmont and the hog skins in eastern North Carolina. I admire the pork sandwich at Payne’s and the burnt ends at LC’s. I can enjoy barbecue just about anywhere. This about me you know, but what do we know of your barbecue proclivities?
In Garden & Gun we learn from you that “I’m a thin vinegar sauce guy.” and “I prefer whole hog, pulled into long strands.” This ain’t news to this longtime reader since I’ve come across nary a mention of brisket in your musings. Your palate is as deprived of smoked beef as the logo of the Southern Foodways Alliance for which you are a capable director. In your list of favorite barbecue menu items you left out brisket entirely and the only mention of Texas was your nod to the hot guts at Southside Market in Elgin, Texas. I love those hot guts too, but you’ve got to get out more. To make matters worse, those James Beard folks gave you an award for an article erroneously titled “BBQ Nation” which forgot about Texas.
On Nightline your optimism was palpable. “I think there’s hope in barbecue.” A few years later you found a gleam of that hope during an extended layover in Austin for the Foodways Texas Symposium. It’s possible you feared that some exploration through the finest city for barbecue may taint your non-commital attitudes of barbecue supremacy, but us Texans are hospitable and we provided you some anyway. Your tweeted reaction was predictable. “Knew I was supposed to fall for Franklin’s brisket. And I did.” See above for a photographic reminder of that fine day. I know it’s painful to see that against your photo of cabbage salad on a wrinkled bun. Considering the title “Pulling Pork”, I’ll assume there’s some meat in there too. A “slummer’s indulgence” for sure.
Your response comes as no surprise to me since you once wrote “There is no one best barbecue. There are many.” I like you too John which is why I’m offering a thorough guided Texas barbecue road trip. We might not change your attitude, but you can at least give us as much of a shot as I’ve given the rest of the country. We’re over here, just on the other side of Louisiana.