As if defending the TMBBQ Top 50 weren’t enough, Texas Monthly Barbecue Editor Daniel Vaughn is also in the middle of his book tour for The Prophets of Smoked Meat, which brought him last week to the city he now says is “the capital of Texas BBQ.” That’s right: the one that’s also the live music capital and the actual capital.
Vaughn’s comments to the crowd and answers to the Q&A at Austin’s BookPeople provided plenty of insight into his taste, his process, and the fifty joints that made the cut.
A few highlights:
-On the most hotly debated Top 50 absence: “I hate to embarass him, but it was Micklethwait Craft Meats [the local Austin trailer eatery had catered the event]. If we did the list today, he would be on it.” (More on that here.)
-On what to look for on a BBQ road trip: “First, a sign that says barbecue. Second, the smell of smoke and a visible, sizable woodpile.”
-One questioner asked, “What’s with the white bread?” To which Vaughn replied, “Well, it’s free, so it’s gotta be cheap and portable. And it also works as a nice edible napkin.”
-On the Salt Lick, whose absence from the Top 50 list had caused much gnashing of teeth and renting of garments: “The Salt Lick is either the most underrated or most overrated joint in Texas.”
-Asked about the emergence of so-called hipster craft ‘cue in Texas, Vaughn noted, “I’d love to see someone go up to 6’7″ Justin Fourton of Pecan Lodge, who went to The Citadel, and call him a hipster.”
-This being an Austin event, someone had to ask him about his three favorite local joints. And naturally, Vaughn couldn’t limit himself to three. He named seven, then asserted, “It’s overtaken Lockhart as the capital of Texas BBQ.”
-And, just to keep stoking the flames of #WWQ, Vaughn said a friend in North Carolina says his state doesn’t even have 50 worthy non-gas joints. (In the June issue of Texas Monthly, Vaughn debated North Carolinian John Shelton Reed on the same subject.)
-On the reaction of his friends and family to his decision to leave his job as an architect and become the nation’s only barbecue editor: “My four year-old daughter said, ‘Dad, you lost your job? [Barbecue] is not a job!'”
-Predictably, someone asked him how he compensates for the massive caloric intake that the job requires. Vaughn’s answer: Eat well at home, and avoid carbs.
Below, Vaughn with Robert Reed (right) and Dirk Miller (left) of Miller’s Smokehouse in Belton. The BBQ Snob will be at Fox Bros. in Atlanta on May 30.