With all due respect to the assembled face-wipers on page 6, the brains, not to mention the gullet and the stomach, behind our latest list of the best barbecue joints in Texas is executive editor Pat Sharpe. Who else could it possibly be? For a generation or more, Pat’s led the charge on every massive food service piece we’ve produced: handpicking the reviewers, refining the criteria and methodology, approving the list of restaurants to be rated and dishes to be devoured, and doing the vast majority of the eating. In 2006 she wolfed down so many tacos over so few days that her gag reflex should have been paid time and a half. Last year it was all steak all the time; at one point in the fall, I was sure I heard her moo. This year it’s been an orgy of brisket, sausage, and sauce. Let’s just say I can smell something smoky from all the way down the hall.
This is no mere exercise, gluttony for gluttony’s sake. There is real value and power and import in what Pat and her merry band of expense-account diners put themselves through. We may be talking about food, but the readers of this magazine care about it just as much as any other subject—maybe more. How well the Speaker is managing the Texas House, for that matter, or whether the A&M football coach is meeting the high expectations of the Aggies has little direct impact on the life of the average Texan. But if we tell you to eat at a great new Mexican place that turns out to be lousy or if we road test and print a recipe from a celebrated chef that we promise will impress your in-laws and instead leaves them retching—well, let’s just say the impact on one’s life is indeed direct. Surely you accept that this is journalism we’re talking about, with no