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If you need any more evidence that Calvin Trillin is one of the best food writers ever, period, end of story, I offer up his latest piece in The New Yorker in which he profiles Snows BBQ, the surprise winner of Texas Monthly‘s “Top 50 BBQ Joints in Texas” survey. Check out this money graf:
An accompanying story on how a Numero Uno had emerged, from three hundred and forty-one spots visited by the staff, revealed that before work began on the 2008 survey nobody at Texas Monthly had heard of Snow’s, either. Lexington, a trading town of twelve hundred people in Lee County, is only about fifty miles from Austin, where Texas Monthly is published, and Texans think nothing of driving that far for lunch—particularly if the lunch consists of brisket that has been subjected to slow heat since the early hours of the morning. Texas Monthly has had a strong posse of barbecue enthusiasts since its early days. Griffin Smith, who wrote the 1973 barbecue article and is now the executive editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, in Little Rock, was known for keeping a map of the state on his wall with pushpins marking barbecue joints he had been to, the way General Patton might have kept a map marked with spots where night patrols had probed the German line. I could imagine the staffers not knowing about a superior barbecue restaurant in East Texas; the Southern style of barbecue served there, often on a bun, has never held much interest for Austin connoisseurs. But their being unaware of a top-tier establishment less than an hour’s drive away astonished me.
My only complaint about the piece? I really wish Trillin would drop his Kansas City barbecue snob shtick. It doesn’t serve him anymore—-or those who want to know what he really thinks of all the smoked meat out there. C’mon, Calvin, all your Cow Town homies won’t forsake you if you occasionally gush about somebody else’s ‘cue. You can’t be divorced for barbecue infidelity—-at least not yet.
Photo by WordRidden via flickr