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Life's Lesson N°12: BBQ



Getting back to the 15 dishes you should master by the age of 30…

Just in time for summer, today we need to master barbecue. This ain’t easy. My first reaction is just to say that if you want good barbecue… Go to the South. Southerners have been mastering barbecue for decades and who are we to interfere?
 

For the first part of my life, I grew up in Missouri, was born in Texas, spent time in the South, and with conviction I can say that I know good barbecue. My parents and grandparents used to take us “to the wrong side of the tracks” in our little town of Springfield, Missouri for old school barbecue. A tiny barbecue joint that had been in operation for three generations… Crosstown Barbecue. It was a total dump but barbecue only tastes good that way. There’s nothing better on a hot summer day than barbecue ribs, coleslaw, baked beans, corn on the cob, watermelon and an icy cold Pepsi.



One sweltering summer my ex-husband and I drove from Missouri to South Carolina stopping at every barbecue place along the way. Our goal was to experience every type of barbecue… Mission accomplished. I learned that there were different types of barbecue depending on the region. Mustard base, tomato base, vinegar base, ketchup base, molasses base. Different types of wood were used… Hickory, pecan, or oak. Some joints used pork, some used beef, some used chicken. Sauces and sides were equally important and barbecue isn’t barbecue without some white bread, paper plates and paper napkins.

 


There was some buzz over here in Paris a while ago about a new restaurant… A barbecue restaurant… In Paris! I was skeptical. However, beggars can’t be choosers so without having any barbecue since I came to Paris two years ago, I thought I would give it a shot. The restaurant is called Flesh and is in the ninth arrondissement. I sent my husband for some take out with specific instructions… Pulled pork sandwich, extra extra barbecue sauce, and coleslaw. None of that came home. They only offered barbecue ribs, no baked beans, no coleslaw and offered Caesar salad as a side dish and offered wine as a beverage. What the fuck! You can’t have Caesar salad with barbecue. You can’t have wine with barbecue! It’s not right, it’s just not done. And what about pulled pork sandwich on a white trash bun… That’s the hallmark of barbecue. The owners of Flesh need to spend a solid summer in Memphis, Arkansas, Texas, Alabama, South Carolina, Kansas City, and North Carolina to get some schooling on what real barbecue is. Quelle horreur!

 


Even my mother who is an incredible cook, doesn’t take on barbecue. She leaves that to the experts and she focuses on the sides. We usually order the ribs, the pulled pork and the brisket and we make homemade sides of corn casserole, potato salad, baked beans, peach cobbler, strawberry shortcake, cornbread and sweet tea. So, that’s what we are going to do over the next few days to get us ready for the summer. Fasten your seatbelts… It’s hillbilly time.
 

21 comments:

  1. Let's start the Bar B Q fixen's! Love the stuff even in L.A!

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  2. Oh my goodness that picture of Scott's Barbecue. North Carolina Barbecue at it's best. A friend used to bring it to us in DC in coolers and we would have a party. Thanks for invoking that memory.

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  3. Just popped over to read your latest post and saw barbecue as the topic. I'm making ribs for dinner and live in the south but after reading this post I realized how unqualified I really am. I live in Southern California, not really considered the south by any means when talking about The South! My recipe is for fall off the bone ribs. I'm becoming more and more suspect of my hopes for them being anything like you describe since the closest authentic barbecue place is apparently a few states away. I need to go get some white bread and some pork and beans to salvage the meal, or maybe some wine and a Caesar salad will save the day and I will label it as a fancy fusion meal. Great post as always!

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    1. Ha! No, Romi Q, Southern California is not the South. Funny!
      There are some good BBQ places in SoCal. You can find most of the best ones in some pretty funky neighborhoods.
      Sheila from Port Townsend

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  4. LET IT ROLL.......................I made CHILLI today.DId you give us a CHILLI recipe?I couldn't find it but learned a trick today at exercise class .......add pumpkin in a can to the chili!!!DELICIOUS!Has anyone heard of that before?I had never made CHILLI until I met YOU!!!!
    XOXOXO

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    1. Yes, add canned pumpkin to any chili recipe (purists wouldn't do this, of course) and actually to any bean soup recipe. Really good in bean with ham soup. Be sure to add lots more seasoning to the recipe if you put the pumpkin in. Can also work the other way; if you've over-spiced a soup or stew, try adding the can of pumpkin to tone it down.
      Sheila from Port Townsend

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    2. Overspiced? Never heard of it! Of course, I was born in South Louisiana and raised in South Texas!
      Allyson

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  5. I live in Charlotte North Carolina and we love barbecue. We go to Lexington Barbecue for the best-- pork shoulder makes the best pulled pork. Lexington barbecue has been on the food channel several times for one for the best barbecue in the country. and of course lots of sweet ice tea. I am an ice tea a holic -- always have a fresh glass right near me at all times. I love your articles about your life--learn something new every time I read what is happening to you.
    Keep up the great writing

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  6. Bwahahahaha! HillbillyStyle!!! I'm Georgia born and have had BBQ in Texas and everywhere in between. You are so right-on about leaving the science of smoking meat to the Masters! Vinegar based sauce is the ONLY sauce in my opinion....but the BEST, BEST, BEST ribs are from the Montgomery Inn in Cincinnati!! Some of our friends fly them in on a regular basis. I BET they could fly them to Paris!!! What's a few more miles??? Bon Appetite!!! Nan

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  7. Wonderful share of your trip to Provence, thank you! Really enjoyed hearing you had a good time! :-)) I love Bar B Q too.....born in Texas....though I am not into S.C. mustard sauce, I go for the red, pulled center cut! many hugs Ellie!

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  8. We all know there ain't any better barbeque than in the south.... Love your blog and love you....

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  9. Go to Memphis for BBQ!!! If you can come in May, plan your trip to attend the Memphis In May Barbeque Cooking Contest (which was last weekend)! You will think you've died and gone to BBQ heaven! (I'm not kidding!).

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  10. *cue "Heehaw" banjo music*
    Of course, I am such a food geek that I am going to go and google all of the places mentioned in your post and the comments...seriously? Real bbq? Why are you torturing yourself like this, Ellie? You know as a fellow expat that is strictly below the belt!
    Now, bring on the corn casserole!

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  11. I'm from Tennessee. I miss BBQ and sweet tea like you can't imagine. A few places in Rome have tried to serve something BBQ-like. Blech.

    Sigh, such is the life of the expat. :)

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  12. Some of the Loudest :) fights I've ever heard were over who served the best BBQ and where to get it!! And you're right; nothing better in the summer than BBQ, cole slaw, and a cold drink! And I rarely even eat meat! Can't imagine BBQ in France!

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  13. A timely post for Memorial Day weekend here in the good ole US of A. In my house, baby back ribs are standard fare. I technically live in the South (US Census still lists Maryland and D.C. as part of the South) so I have no problem following Walter Scheib’s Baby-Back Rib recipe/technique. He was the White House Chef under President Clinton (Arkansas) and George Bush (Texas) so I figure if it was good enough for them, it’s good enough for me. To save time, I usually buy a good store-bought sauce in lieu of his Fire Cracker Dipping Sauce. That said, I’ll be trying a new recipe/technique just posted on Tasting Table in which the baby back ribs get a dry spice rub overnight, followed by slow roasting in the oven (yes oven) 2 days in advance (love advance) and then put on the grill (10 min) and slathered in BBQ sauce the day of. Which recipe wins? TBD.

    p.s. Your BBQ joint photos clearly rival any French gas stations :/ Speaking of France, some say the word barbeque comes from the french "barbe a queue" - head-to-tail.

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  14. Ellie, yes as a Kansas City girl, as well traveled as I am our family goes to the Boulevard for Rosedale's ribs always!! My brother Joe picks them up (not even enough room for our family to eat there)!

    xoxo
    Karena
    The Arts by Karena

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  15. Great post. Crosstown rocks, hope it still exists. Best address on Division Street. Dump? Hardly. Character is what I'd say, and damn good BBQ - if a BBQ place doesn't have character, it's not BBQ (think small town, old building with brick interior, infused with many years BBQ smoke, family owned, small tables with plastic dixie coverings, and squirt bottles filled with generations old recipes). Fantastic. If too ghetto though, I guess Feed Lot on Battlefield might just be the ticket (they did however have a bovine on the roof, and one hell of a big salad bar). hehe. Best, JD.

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  16. La Comtesse LolaMay 22, 2015 at 10:00 PM

    The Rendezvous in Memphis. The end. xo

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  17. My mom made bbq this wkend with homemade coleslaw..I swear if it wasn't for her I wouldn't eat! I live in VA but yiu can't beat Carolina bbq!:)

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