Title: Follow the Smoke
Author: John DeMers
Published: 2008 Bright Sky Press
The idea, the layout and the writing of this book are excellent for both skimming, as well as reading it cover-to-cover (I've done both). I enjoyed the photos and the stories, but the most basic description of how the joints were chosen for inclusion in the book is ignored. The 14,783 miles traveled in search of great barbecue is impressive, but it doesn't explain why so many of the classic Texas smokehouses were completely ignored while so many no-name joints with no more than a few years of history were included. A full 30 of the 111 total joints are located near on the Gulf Coast, while places like Prause Meat Market in LaGrange, City Meat Market in Giddings, and Food Market in Gonzales were missing from the list. My guess is that the author's Louisiana roots and Houston history may two reasons the book seems to be so heavily focused on coastal Texas.
I was lucky enough to meet the author, and I asked him just how he determined which joints made the book. He didn't seem to be dodging the question we he described the hours of research, the numerous Chamber of Commerce phone calls, and the tips from his many friends across the state, but his answer made me realize that he hadn't really considered knocking any of the joints that he had visited out of the book. They all made it in.
The book is great for any wandering soul who's always on the lookout for great 'cue on the backroads (see preview here), just don't consider it the authority on where to find the best barbecue in Texas.