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Southerner Jealous of Neighbor’s Popularity

Robert Moss is Mad that Texas BBQ is so Good

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You may have noticed the yammering of a South Carolinian about the “tyranny” of Texas barbecue in a recent article on First We Feast. The author, Robert Moss, is the barbecue editor for Southern Living. An esteemed position, for sure, but it’s curious that the magazine chose to poll their readers on the ten best barbecue joints in the South rather than send Moss on the road. (Okay, I own two of Moss’s books on barbecue, but Southern Living made this too easy.)

The article is an attempt to pigeonhole every Central Texas barbecue joint into a single category that supposedly follows Moss’s five rules. An explanation then follows as to why good old Southern barbecue (read: pork) isn’t harnessed by such requirements. Despite the illogical leaps made in his rules, Moss’s article isn’t much more than a tantrum. Texas barbecue is popular, far more popular across the world than the pulled pork of Moss’s native South Carolina, and he’s mad about it. (For the record, I love whole hog barbecue, but I don’t plan to make up any rules about it). There’s probably some residual anger about not being asked by the magazine that employs him to weigh in on the South’s best barbecue list, but it sounds like one of the “unseemly cries for attention” that Moss accused us of in 2013. This article amounts to nothing more than red meat for an audience of Southern barbecue faithfuls.

I won’t delve into rule-by-rule counterpoints, but according to Moss’s second rule, we’ve gone too far with our preference of fresh barbecue over leftovers. This is where he completely lost me, but what’s perplexing about every rule he lists is that they’re all broken all over Texas. Daily. And that whole thing about not serving sauce? Do your research Moss. There’s one barbecue joint in all of Texas (Kreuz Market) that doesn’t serve sauce, and I don’t know of any Texas-style barbecue joint outside of Texas that doesn’t offer barbecue sauce.

Moss admits that Texas barbecue acolytes across the country “introduced a new generation of diners to traditional barbecue.” That’s a good thing. The world is richer, in a culinary sense, because Oregonians, New Yorkers, Parisians, and even South Carolinian barbecue joint owners loved Texas brisket so much they had to share it with their neighbors back home. Moss just wishes it was whole hog instead of brisket, and for that he portrays our barbecue as tyrannical. It’s like sherbet blaming ice cream for everyone loving it. Ice cream didn’t force anyone to love it, and neither did brisket.

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  • Bill Barkley

    One thing South Carolina Q reminds me of is “mustard” BBQ sauce! OMG! Stopped at a Q joint in Columbia one time and the clerk pulled out a spoon of mustard sauce Q that looked like it came out of a baby’s diaper. I ate the hush puppies and forgot about the yellow mess that came out of the crock pot. If THAT is what they are calling BBQ, I disagree.

  • Bryan Brezik

    The reason they do pork in other states is because it’s easy. They don’t even attempt to do brisket because that takes real skill. Anybody can make pork tender and taste good.

  • Jim

    Well I love all the Que and have eaten at most on all the list in my years. I’ve lived in Memphis, Carolina, traveled south from my hometown of New Orleans to my son’s college in Savannah with lots of stops along the way. I currently live between Bastrop and Cedar Park Texas with Austin right in the middle of my day to day livelihood. Texas BBQ is a treat to me but I LOVE #southernsmoke with Chris Shepherd – Rodney Scott whole hog in the Carolinas – Rendezvous Ribs shipped online from Memphis or stopping off I95 with my son on the roadtrips to Southern Soul in Georgia

    “Can’t we all just get along?” and eat some Que lol

  • Julie

    I lived in NC for 7 years. Now currently reside in TX. Carolina BBQ doesn’t hold a candle to TX BBQ. It just doesn’t come close. Even if brisket were taken out of the mix, Moss doesn’t even have to go to central TX to discover how TX does hog. He can fly into DFW and head to Hutchins for their pulled pork, to Pecan Lodge for their pork ribs, and Lockhart for the shoulder clod.

  • Amen!!!! Preach!!!

  • Michael Wagner

    Hi – I was born and raised in Texas and during those 37 years, I ate a lot of BBQ. I even cooked for one of the Lockhart joints before they opened another store south of Austin. As a (stereo?)typical Texan, everything we did was bigger and better than anything anywhere else. Truthfully, I believed that. Then I got hired to cook BBQ in North Carolina, for a place that cooks Texas style brisket and ribs and Carolina style pork. What I’m learning is pretty interesting. In Texas, if there is a word synonymous with “BBQ”, it’s brisket. “Can I have a BBQ sandwich please?” Brisket sandwich. “Let me get a pound of BBQ” Pound of brisket. Over here, it’s pork. Pork is their go to meat, what people think of when they say BBQ. Coming in, I didn’t think I’d care at all for vinegar sauce or mustard sauce and why would I eat all that sauce anyway if the meat was anything worth talking about? But the pork with the eastern NC vinegar sauce is delicious and a chicken sandwich with SC mustard sauce is definitely worth it. And – I have the lucky ability to taste all the meat before any sauce is applied and it’s equally delicious. Cooked – not over cooked – to perfection with a dry rub bite that’s pleasing to the palate. And brisket is making headway over here. We’re cooking excellent Texas style brisket in stick burning rotisseries, restoring faith in the world to the Texas transplants here and bringing around the beef paradigm to the native Carolinians. They love it. I saw a video of Esaul hand pulling pork for a customer and just putting it on his plate. A very Texas move. But that pork would have been so much better with a little vinegar. I think he’s not the only one doing that. So, the people in Carolina are opening their minds to Brisket and Texans are getting on the pork wagon. And the two BBQ editors of each respective region are doing their jobs by manufacturing a BBQ war that common people are less interested in than they are interested in delicious smoked meat. I’m posting this response verbatim on Moss’s as well.

  • Jon Zeitler

    I lived in Texas 25 of the last 30 years, spent a couple years in South Carolina, and been to Memphis and Kansas City 10x each.

    There is no “bad” BBQ unless is over- or under-cooked. It is all about the meat. For those thinking otherwise, ask if they know of potato salad and cole slaw devotees, or take road trips to find the best sauce.

  • Gregg snyder

    There is great bbq everywhere .Brooklyn ,Utah and Australia even.there are no strict rules to be followed .bbq can be great naked or with sauce or mixed into the meat.

  • Chris Sapp

    Relax. It’s BBQ. It’s all good!!

  • Texas BBQ restaurants are the CIA of the BBQ Food Industry. We produce more pitmasters that leave the state and start up TX BBQ themed restaurants. Heck I have been to The JACK and cooked next to a team from Sweden called the Swedish Texas BBQ Team.

  • Well put Daniel! Alex and I are proud to continue the tyranny of Texas BBQ over the south. Brick and mortar opens in Richmond, VA in September!

  • Quinn

    “I don’t know of any Texas-style barbecue joint outside of Texas that doesn’t offer barbecue sauce.”

    The recently closed Delaney BBQ aka Brisket Town in Brooklyn did not serve sauce (as I’m sure you were aware of and had forgotten).

    • I figured since they were closed, it was safe to not include a note about their former saucelessness.

      • Quinn

        Makes sense. BTW – I enjoy the (I think mostly) friendly rivalry with Moss.

  • My take of his article was that he was playing the bbq cards we have been dealt (here in South Carolina).

    Before this gets out of hand, you and Robert need to get on the same page, find some common ground and meat in the middle, preferably in Columbia and in front of a tray of my brisket, beef ribs, pulled pork and chicken.

  • Kit Rudd

    I’m just happy that I can enjoy a sublime plate of pork, dip and red slaw at Honey Monk’s in Lexington as much an equally incredible spread from my new favorite spot back home Truth BBQ. And not feel the need to categorize or denigrate one or the other. Oh and what brings me to North Carolina these days? CASI chili cook offs. We generallly get along up here in the mid Atlantic and appreciate each other’s gifts to the world of fine regional offerings.

  • twinwillow

    I’ve lived in Texas for 54 years. I love Texas BBQ!!! But, I NEVER put sauce on brisket. It’s OK to put a little sauce on pork (ribs, etc) but, NEVER on brisket!