Texas Monthly editor-in-chief Jake Silverstein debated BBQ at SXSW Monday, though as he tweeted prior to the panel, “let’s be honest, this is a contest for second place.”

Appearing at a Yahoo! #hashout event at downtown Austin’s Brazos Hall, Silverstein talked smoked meat with Yahoo!News’ Chris Suellentrop, a Kansas City native, and BuzzFeed’s John Herman, a Carolina advocate, before attendees got in line to try some Stiles Switch (it’s not SXSW without free food and lines).

Among Silverstein’s comments:

It’s a true experience to eat high quality Texas BBQ. You’re probably going to eat with your hands. Yo’re going to order giant piles of meat. And also, you can’t really teach how to smoke good Texas BBQ. It’s an art, it’s a science. A lot of the time you’re smoking that brisket, you’re just monitoring the fire. Knowing how to manage that fire, and knowing how to manage all sorts of “X” factors, like the weather and humidity, it is truly amazing. Consistency is one of the hardest thing to master.


It’s pretty easy if you just take a pig and you just smoke it and chop it all up into this big mass and put sauce on it. It’s good. Don’t get me wrong. But it’s sort of like the way peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are good. It doesn’t require that much artistry to get there.


But Suellentrop and Herman did get in their licks.

“This is one of those things where you can’t lose…even though Texas lost in football this year,” the former joked, while the latter drolly characterized brisket as “slow-cooked frontier meat brought to edibility through extremely long cooking.”

The panel was preceded by one on the subject of “second screen” media and news; to jump right to the meat of things, skip ahead to the 52:30 mark.

“The real debate is not which BBQ is best, but is BBQ actually the single greatest food that any human can consume?,” Suellentrop concluded.