In the current issue, I published Matthew Brandon's spirited defense of Texas barbecue, and elaborated on my own obsession. Here's his reply:
I didn't expect little ol' me to be quoted in your column. You acquitted yourself just fine, though. One thing I didn't get a chance to cover in my letter was the way that BBQ in Texas is so much more than beef brisket. More even than beef. Aside from the various cuts of beef, there's the hot links, boudin, venison sausages and cuts; there's the chicken, quail and game birds; the goats and, not by any means the least, the pig. You see, BBQ in Texas pervades the psyche like no other place I've ever been. People raise cows to BBQ with. They hunt dear and javalina and quail to BBQ with. There's even BBQ cabbage! And the regional differences keep it from getting boring.
In East Texas the pig is king. You never hear about that outside of Texas, and apparently you weren't hip to it either, until now. East Texas is culturally very Southern. They cook pig and use the hickory that grows there. BBQ pitmasters in this area are highly respected and part of the great Southern black culture that is being replaced by rap music and drugs. A HUGE SHAME. I believe that there are not more than a few left.
In South Texas, you're gonna see a lot of goat, or cabrito. Central Texas, where your socially acceptable Austin is, you'll still see a lot of pig as well as beef. And it gets pretty fancy. Farther west, it's more cowboys and beef. But venison is all over the state. The average Texan BBQs more things more often than any other state I've been to. It's a big part of life there. And I'm sure that a man of your experience and appreciation would love it if you knew it.
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I hope you don't take offense. You apparently do dig the Q. It's a shame, though, that Texas gets such a bad rap when it comes to Q. You should get on the internet and order you up some good boudin, Elgin links and venison sausage, smoke 'em up and have a true Texas BBQ experience. (Yes boudin is cajun, but there's lots of cajuns in Texas, too.) Serve it with jalapenos, pickled or fresh, and some good cowboy beans. I hope you enjoy it. -- Matthew Brandon