The barbecue bacchanal that is the Texas Monthly BBQ Festival is set to be, for the second year in row, an awe-inspiring helping of the very best barbecue in Texas (and therefore the world). Carnivorous connoisseurs of charry comestibles, a toothy group amongst whose ranks the Texanist proudly counts himself, will have their smoky dreams brought to life for this glorious once-a-year afternoon in Austin. To understate it badly, it’s going to be a very appetizing affair. In all, there will be 22 of the state’s most renowned barbecue establishments showcasing their succulent wares at the Fest. Smitty’s Market in Lockhart? Check. Snow’s BBQ in Lexington? Check. Casstevens Cash & Carry in Lillian? Check. Even already-venerable newcomer Franklin Barbecue in Austin will be there. Attending the festival will be not unlike like having the results of a months-long barbecue road trip conveniently delivered to you, where you can check nearly two dozen places off of your barbecue bucket list in one fell swoop. But wouldn’t it be a crying shame to have to be wheeled over to the emergency services tent for a light head and a heavy belly after having only visited, say, a dozen or so of the pits? Here, for the lucky attendants, are a few things to keep in mind. Not attending this year’s fest? Take note for next year. Admittedly the Texanist does not always heed his own advice, but try to exercise a little self control. In such a setting, what with all the mouthwatering aromas and glistening morsels, it will be impossible, but it never hurts to make the effort. Just remember, you are not a contestant in a competitive barbecue-eating contest.
Pace yourself by moving about at a leisurely clip, going slowly and methodically down the line or jumping around in a more whimsical fashion. Either way, there’s plenty to taste, and there’s plenty of time in which to taste it. It’s not a race. Unless, of course, you and the Texanist happen to simultaneously glimpse the last bit of Snow’s brisket, in which case it’s on like Donkey Kong. Hydration is important, so wet your whistle often. Luckily, ice-cold beer (or sweet tea for the youngsters) pairs well with barbecue. An appetite befitting a true lover of the smoky deliciousness that is Texas barbecue is a necessity for maximum enjoyment, but please, for the sake of those around you, avoid talking with a mouthful of half-chewed beef or gesticulating with a half-cleaned rib bone. Use your manners; people are trying to eat. Savoring the all the delectables is the easy part, but be sure to take a little time to meet (and thank) the hardworking men and women responsible for, as the kids say these days, bringing the prandial pleasure. Barbecue, at its best, is a communal affair, so enrich your overall festival experience by enjoying the fellowship of like-minded barbecue nuts. These trusty tips have served the Texanist well and he’s sure they’ll do the same for you. This year or next, enjoy the fest.