Barbecue is a little bit different as one moves around the country, but I never paid much attention to how much it changed when I moved around the great state of Texas. Author Daniel “BBQ Snob” Vaughn and photographer Nicholas McWhirter have done an amazing job of bringing these differences to light.
As a photographer I have to say that I like the style of most of the images in The Prophets of Smoked Meats. They have a nice fine art feel to them, Nicholas McWhirter does great work with depth of field and putting as much info in the background of an image as he does in the foreground. The photos cover combo plates, portraits of pit bosses-well, pittmasters, store fronts, and the varied and sundry odds and ends the average person might run cross while driving back and forth across Texas for an extended period of time. Like most books on food, the photos are pretty important.
This is not a cook book, though there are a few sort of recipes at the end under the Pittmasters profiles. The recipes are deceptively simple, each containing just nine steps from what meat to use to how to know when it’s done. The trick, of course, is that a pittmaster can tell you how they do it-and you still won’t be able to do it exactly the way they do. Which makes it nice that the rest of the book tells you where to find the restaurants and what the best thing to order might be. Best is always up for debate though.
The writing is pretty smooth as well. Daniel Vaughn does a good job of sounding casual as he delivers a bit of info and atmosphere for what ends up being close to two hundred BBQ Joints. He tells what he likes and what he doesn’t like. For the most part he’s pretty forgiving, even if he doesn’t like one thing on the menu, he tries to find something else worth giving a compliment. And yet there were still many places where he found little enough to love.
Having grown up in Fort Worth, Texas and eaten my fair share of barbecue, it was fun to read about the many BBQ Joints that I have yet to pull over and give a try. I’m also tempted by the ‘recipes’ in the back of the book and might give one or two a try.
The Prophets of Smoked Meat: A Journey Through Texas Barbecuewas a fun book about a couple of guys driving around and having a mostly good time eating often average Bar-B-Q. If, however, you want a book that goes a bit more in depth about Texas Barbecue and how to make it try reading Legends of Texas Barbecue Cookbook: Recipes and Recollections from the Pit Bosses.