At the third annual Texas Monthly BBQ Festival on September 23, one person was amazed by the spectacle of the species Carnivorus texensis engaging in its defining behavior. That person was Takis Würger, 27, a visiting writer for the German magazine Der Spiegel, which is published in Hamburg. Würger has been on a fellowship with the Austin Chronicle and returns home this Thursday. I caught up with him at the festival, taking a break from brisket sampling, and asked his impressions of Texas barbecue. Here are excerpts of what he said:
“I’ve never seen so much meat in one place in my life. It’s overwhelming. Unfortunately my stomach was not big enough to sample all 21 booths. I failed!
“I like the atmosphere at the festival. Very friendly. I saw the pit masters joking around and sharing samples.
“You cannot buy a whole brisket in Germany; they’re made into ground meat. When we smoke meat there, it ends up hard, and you thin-slice it because otherwise you could not chew it.
“Over here, in the United States, beef is a lot fattier and it tastes better. We don’t feed corn to cows in Germany, like you do in America. Over here, people think fat tastes good. In Germany, people think fat makes you fat. The goal there is a healthy meal.
“I’ve noticed that the majority of people in the United States are fat—most American men have a tummy.
“The only thing that’s saved me from gaining weight from eating so much barbecue over here is that I go to the boxing gym every day. I’ve eaten more meat today than I would in a month in Germany. There, I might eat meat once a week.
“I live in a third-floor apartment. Before I go back, I’m buying a Cameron stove-top smoker. When I get to Hamburg, I’m going to find a butcher who will cut me a brisket and I’ll have my own little Texas barbecue. My German friends will freak out when they taste it, it’s so tender and rich.
“Am I a convert to Texas brisket? (laughs) Yes! Do I like fat? Oh yeah! Barbecue makes me happy.”