Monday, April 30, 2007
Okay, here's the story of barbecue: There are two regions of the country which each follow excruciatingly complicated exclusionary rules, and end up with a restrictive fare rivaling a danged Japanese tea ceremony. These regions, if there is any doubt left, are the Carolinas and Texas. Everywhere else, I ought to add right here and right now, follows the style known by me as "Deep South" which extends all the way to Memphis, whose barbecue is reputedly mighty fine; and I have no reason to doubt that. And maybe further. As we know, places like South Florida (but not North Florida!) and California have no barbecue. They have hamburgers on hibachis. Or tofu dogs and pineapple. Things such as that. What they do in Oshkosh is none of my business. In Texas, at least, certain variations are approved: most all wild game is allowed, such as javelina, rabbit, armadillo (tasty!) and venison. Sausages are quite common as adjuncts on the grill. Fajitas are often cooked with the main course of brisket. (There are no chicken fajitas officially recognized in Texas!) Which brings us to the meat of the matter: chicken is verboten at a public barbecue in Texas, if there is pork in those sausages you DON'T TALK ABOUT IT, and hog meat is not present. Not only that, in Texas the sauce is given short shrift, and barbecue beans are not seen as necessary! Unflavored pintos are often the only beans you get!I find this oppressive, as all these things are presumably allowed in other regions, except of course the Carolinas, where no chicken or beef is recognized as barbecue, and the fights are about things like whether to add a spoonfull of ketchup, or mustard, to a gallon of vinegar when making the "sauce." And the local yokels think that adding one drop of Texas Pete, the hot sauce BANNED IN TEXAS, (didn't know that, did you?) is considered a "secret ingredient." Whereas anywhere else in the country, even Chicago for crying out loud, you can get barbecued chicken, barbecued pork, smoked pork, smoked beef, barbecue beans, hush puppies, pork ribs, beef ribs, THREE kinds of delicious sauce, (medium, hot, and fiery), and the sauce is full of tomato and molasses or brown sugar like God intended, and hush puppies, cole slaw, and any of the suitable meats served on a bun if you desire; it's your choice. Barbecue wants to be free!