The Prophets of Smoked Meat: A Journey Through Texas Barbecue

Daniel Vaughn. Ecco, $29.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-06-220295-6
The first release on Anthony Bourdain’s line for Ecco is from self-described “BBQ snob” Vaughn. expert on the various styles of Texas barbecue who offers page after page of exhaustive dissertation on the intricacies of brisket, sausage, and other smoked meats, as he traverses the state. The book is divided into four sections based on region (east, central, west, and south) that each have their own specialties, and Vaughn and photographer Nicholas McWhirther work their way through plate after plate of barbecue with nary a vegetable in sight. Vaughn offers detailed, informed critiques of countless eateries with varying results. Though an admitted Yankee from Ohio, his expertise is unassailable. Vaughn’s got over 500 BBQ joints under his belt and he’s a fair judge of the good, the bad, and the mediocre when it comes to smoked meat. Unfortunately for some of the proprietors listed, a great many joints end up in the “mediocre” category, as he holds them to a justifiably high standard. Vaughn does an admirable job of keeping readers’ interest with asides on rubs, and a meditation on the role of rotisseries in barbecue. The book also contains studies of some of the cuisine’s colorful proprietors (many of whom provide recipes in the book’s appendix), but it’s the hardcore barbecue nerds and Texans who will get the most out of Vaughn’s efforts. Casual smokers will likely find the book to be repetitive and maybe even depressing as the indictment of bad briskets, overcooked ribs, and commercially produced sausage mounts. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/01/2013
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Hardcover - 372 pages - 978-0-06-220292-5
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