A long while ago, we attended a gathering of BBQ bloggers at Louie Mueller’s in Taylor. Organized by Daniel Vaughn, then just the BBQ Snob now also the BBQ editor of Texas Monthly, the group included Don O., J.C. Reid, and others.
It was a fun day of camaraderie and food.
Fast forward most of a decade and I found myself engaged in a Facebook discussion about the “food press” last weekend with Jack Perkins, who created and sold Slow Bone in Dallas.
My point to Perkins: Yes, the Posse writes about food, but our approach is closer to Jack Kerouac’s On the Road than Food & Wine. The journey, the adventure are also important.
That conversation helped crystallize some other recent thinking.
Barbecue writers/bloggers, especially those who chronicle the many experiences they encounter on their road trips, are part of a long, much broader literary tradition that began with Homer (The Odyssey), extends through Chaucer (The Canterbury Tales), Mark Twain (Adventures of Huckleberry Finn) and Kerouac.
In my barbecue library, two of the best examples of the genre are Robb Walsh’s Barbecue Crossroads and Lolis Eric Elie’s Smokestack Lightning. For them, the people they encounter, the back stories, the music, the cultures, the variety of recipes, are as important as the food.
For sure, none of our barbecue odysseys are as long as Odysseus' 10-year journey home, except for maybe the wait in line at Franklin Barbecue. Nor, are we as poetic as Geoffrey Chaucer:
Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote
But, for my money, Kerouac would have made a wonderfully productive blogger. From his opening line — “I first met Dean not long after my wife and I split up. “ — to his ending about sundown in America and Dean Moriarty again, Kerouac typed his masterpiece on a continuous scroll in just three weeks.
And while by modern standards Twain’s SEO skills would have sucked, as do mine, the cigar-chomping author and observer of life was an early master at linking and building his personal brand, right from the opening sentence of Huck Finn:
"You don't know about me, without you have read a book by the name of ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,’ but that ain't no matter."
So, to all our fellow chroniclers of barbecue, we salute you and your tradition! And we’ll be looking for you during our future pilgrimages on the barbecue road.