Mail order BBQ

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BBQ is one of the great world cuisines, but unfortunately it's pretty hard to make at home. Sure, it's easy to grill at home, but real BBQ requires long-term smoking, which isn't easy to do with your average backyard grill (though the best choice of the semi-fast cooking grilling methods here is probably a Weber kettle.). But who has time to smoke things for 10+ hours?

Today I discovered a good second choice. My friends Terence and Wendy were down in Austin and brought me a pre-smoked brisket from the Salt Lick. They smoke the meat and then chill and vacuum pack it. It'll keep for a week in your fridge and then you can slap it on the grill (or, I suppose, in the oven) and in an hour you've got a ready-to-eat brisket which is probably better than most anything you can get at a local restaurant. They have ribs and sausage, too, but I can't vouch for them yet.

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Besides Salt Lick, other good options for mail-order pork:

Memphis specializes in ribs (dry or wet), North Carolina does pulled-pork with a funky vinegar-based hot sauce. (And South Carolina does a mustard vinegar, but I haven't found any good mail-order there.)

When you say, "BBQ is one of the great world cuisines", is that a subjective statement, or is there some kind of consensus to that effect? I know that American food snobs have latched onto it in recent years, but I haven't seen any evidence that that's not simply yet another food-snob fad--like, say, gourmet ceviche. In fact, as a former Montrealer, I wouldn't even put BBQ in first place among world cuisines that are based on smoked brisket of beef....

Vacuum packed can't compare to living a few miles from the Salt Lick (except for the long wait on weekends). I usually try hard to save room for the blackberry cobbler, a la mode.

I can vouch that Eric's been a BBQ fan for at least 10 years. So he's certainly not falling prey to a fad.

As for BBQ's lack of greatness, clearly you blaspheme.

I'm only offended that Terence didn't inform us all sooner. He needs to email the BBQ hotline before we read about it with a few days delay. I've been stuck with Redbones ( for months now, with a small respite when I'm in D.C.

Food-snob fad!?!?! Now you are just being provocative. The main Austin area BBQ meccas have been going since the 1940s. Barbeque gets mentions in culinary journals going back to the civil war. (

Perhaps the ever trendy James Beard was just way, way ahead of the curve when he wrote his barbeque cookbook in 1956. (When Lyndon Johnson was hosting diplomatic dinners over barbeque at his ranch.)

Terence, I'm not denying that BBQ has a long history--just skeptical of the idea that anybody would have characterized it as "one of the great world cuisines" (as opposed to "some darned good eatin'", or maybe "a charming American folk tradition") before, say, five years ago, when food snobs started discovering it. Certainly, Lyndon Johnson would never have been caught dead serving food from "one of the great world cuisines" at his ranch.

So, I'll grant you that in traditional terms, barbeque doesn't fit into the "great world cuisines", but I'd argue that it is the Great American Cuisine. It's the one food tradition that's indigenous to the Americas, it's the one food that had significant regional styles (and styles distinct enough that there is regional idenitification with them.) I am totally puzzled by this five years ago business. It's never really been a foodie kind of thing. There's only one high end BBQ place in NYC (Blue Smoke), and it's not a raging success. On the other hand, there has been a long time successful BBQ competition circuit that's way more NASCAR than Zagat.

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