Title: Searching for the Dixie Barbecue
Author: Wilber W. Caldwell
Published: 2005 by Pineapple Press
The tedious search for the "Real Dixie Barbecue" is discussed at length in this book. The back cover promises to answer three questions: "What is 'real' barbecue?", "How do you find it?", and "What does it mean to be Southern". What it mostly includes is the author's long list of rules the determine if you're eating good barbecue (taste wasn't mentioned as one of those factors). Being a true Georgia boy, he takes a few cheap shots at Texas because Texans are "obnoxious" and we "bask in an abrasive aura of exclusivity" (sounds like someone's jealous). Because of these inherent flaws, the "Real Dixie Barbecue" cannot be found in the Lone Star State, or maybe it's just because we like brisket.
It would have been good if the author would introduce us to a few of the characters that he met on his journey. Only a few are included like Howard Thaxton who is beloved mainly for serving decent 'cue in the midst of complete squalor. Dora Williams and Kate Hardy are profiled for serving very fine smoked meat, but the author seems reluctant to admit their prowess simply because they offer more than pulled pork and ribs. Explanations of the history and varied recipes of Brunswick Stew along with discussions about choosing a good smoking wood are intriguing, but the rest of the book was nearly unreadable. In the author's constant attempt to be colloquial, he included so many apostrophes and phonetic spellings I had to constantly remind myself that I wasn't reading Huck Finn.
By the end of the book, all I could wonder was who is the intended audience? Is it a guide for the "Yankees" that are so derided in these pages that they'd likely stop reading after just a few pages of Confederate rhetoric, or is it a guide for Southerners that wouldn't seem to care that such a needless guide existed according to the author? Methinks it might just be the babbling of one man who wants to share his personal "rules" for determining the worthiness of any Southern barbecue place all while disguising his ramblings as the generally accepted views of an entire population.
- BBQ Snob