Being surrounded by smoke all day Saturday at Grillin' On The Bay, waking up Sunday still reeking of it and wandering back into the school on Monday and being gobsmacked by the scent once again has worked its magic on my soul. Oh how I love the smell of wood burning! It brings me back to the campgrounds of my youth. There's something magical and mystical about watching fire burn. Add in the alchemy of barbecue and I'm one happy and content camper.
While I haven't been to every barbecue restaurant in the world, the closest I've ever come to experiencing that magic indoors has been at the bbq joints of central Texas.
In the book "The Only Texas Cookbook" by Linda West Eckhardt she describes how to identify a good barbecue joint...
- "They serve only barbecue."
- "A stack of wood is outside., and smoke is curling up from a large smokestack somewhere."
- "When you walk in the door, you may see a sign that says, "Snickers in the cooler."
- "More than likely there will be a picnic tables with loaves of bread still in the plastic wrappers, gallon jars of jalapenos and sliced onions. Maybe a pot of pinto beans."
- "Look carefully at the other diners. They should be just-folks. They should be hunched over squares of botcher paper, chewing thoughtfully. Ideally, there will be no conversation other than murmurs of approval and considered belches."
- "There are toothpicks besides the cash register. You meat order by the pound. The carver cuts it to order."
- "You are probably in a small town west of a line running from Columbus and northward to Dallas-Fort Worth."
- "You are eating Central Texas Barbeque - you lucky son-of-a-gun."
Photograph courtesy of Bookerweb.com. That's Cooper's BBQ in the photo!