Monday, June 05, 2006

On the personal blog, I get down to personal issues

After some thought I consulted my friend B— on the barbecue question, and his reply is worth sharing in its entirety:
Ok, here's my take on the deal. We will divide it up into two discrete propositions: 1) Is it morally and culinarily acceptable for male over the age of the majority who hails from the nation of Texas to prepare, directly or indirectly, and/or allow his pit (re: The Unit) to be used for the preparation of the dish known as "pulled pork", and 2) should fusion-y and nouveau-Q preparations be entertained as a gesture toward diversity and openness, or should the home fires be tended as they ever were, in the belief that as it was in Lockhart, so it was in Heaven. With regard to Prop 1, I have no problem recognizing pulled pork as *a* BBQ, but never as *the* BBQ. As a BBQ, it certainly beats all manner of grilled dishes, and it certainly qualifies as meat cooked low and slow over smoke to render a large, tough cut tender. I believe that when properly done, it renders an excellent interpretation of the nature of the Pig; it is appropriately subtle where brisket is bold, as pork is to beef. However, it is here, in its subtlety, where it fails. Pulled pork, as a composition, has too few notes, too few challenges. Pulled pork aficionados recommend smoking over hickory coals, not the lit wood itself; some even advocate for hardwood charcoal. Wood selection, grading, and usage is one of the pillar skills of the accomplished pit master; to reduce it to a minor element is to degrade the position. Smoking a pork butt is the recommended first step for any new BBQ'er, while smoking a brisket is often spoken about in hushed tones, words of frustration and crushed egos. Pulled pork is BBQing with training wheels; only the truly masterful can perfect the brisket.

Which isn't to say that pulled pork is without its positives, it's just that, in my mind, it should be treated as a side project. So go ahead, change the expected style, give yourself a ridiculous name, make an album with an unknown backing band that no one will buy, but just remember what got you on that major label in the first place. With regard to Prop 2, I hew to a fairly Zen style when it comes to my own Q. I like to hone in on the essential and stay clear of bling. However, that's not to say that innovation and experimentation have no place in BBQ, I just believe they should be built on a foundation of the classics. Properly executed Q needs no accompaniment; everything else is for the tourists.
B—'s thoughts are as commendable as his own work behind the smokestack, work that I've long admired. Naturally, to the end of the message he tacked on a recipe for the Brinkmann: chicken tucked with jalapeño, bacon, and cojito cheese. God, I miss home.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will be eating salt lick brisket in the friendly confines of Madison Square Park here in New York this very weekend. Then I will attend a lecture called "Judaism and Barbeque: Reconciling your love of both" in the very same park. For a mere $35 worth of bus fare and $7 a plate, you could be sitting right next to me. Think about it.


5:55 PM  

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