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.