19 May 2015
Let me say right off the bat, I am one of those girls that barbecues. One guy who was working for me, said he knew I was from the South because I had a dozen rigs to cook out. I found another guy who was helping me with yard work looking a bit puzzled. He said, "You have like nine grills." Well, I said, "Ones of whole hog, one for shoulders, one for steaks, a smoker, a clay oven..." He just went back to work. Yes, I am a bit inclined to love a good barbecue book.
Franklin Barbecue is the kind of meritocracy story that America was built on. Of course, for every one Franklin there are thousands of failures, but we do love to extol success. Here's the story: Kid from Texas is kinda lost in the world. Buys a cheap smoker and even cheaper brisket. His first try, not great, so he becomes determined. Keeps working at it. Works odd jobs, saves $1000. Tried to buy large smoker. Fails. Keeps at it. Gets smoker in disrepair. Cleans and fixes smoker. Buys $300 trailer. Fixes it up. Gets food truck license. Moves smoker and trailer to lot. Makes brisket. People come. End of second mother BBQ blogger comes, says best bite of brisket ever. Lines form. Lease former barbecue restaurant complete with old, disgusting food(someone else's failure), fix up. Longer line. Texas Monthly -- Best Barbecue in Texas. Lines, longer lines. Bon Appetite -- Best Barbecue in USA. Television. More television. Only time ever but POTUS goes to front of the line. (In all fairness he did pay the bills of some of the people he cut in front of.) Cookbook!
Actually, Franklin Barbecue is a meat-smoking manifesto. I knew going into this that the book contained only a few recipes. The best early review of the book came from Helen Rosner in EATER. When I got my copy I read the blurbs. I read about Aaron Franklin, but then I had read about him before, seen him on television, and on television, and on television. Read about his coauthor and his photographer. I read the introduction where Franklin says if you want to find the recipes just go to the last chapter. But I started with chapter one. I looked up and realized several hours had passed. I was still reading. I was reading Aaron Franklin's meat-smoking manifesto like it was a novel -- or a manifesto. I am ready to go all Anonymous on my smoker.
You know how "they" say, " I could listen to so-and-so read the phone book." Well, I believe I could listen to Aaron Franklin read the phone book. Who knew smoke could be so fascinating? Who could compare brisket to Mary Lou Retton? Who could make the Maillard reaction sound like so much fun? I now worry about sausage casings, and wonder if my flue is long enough, and think that maybe, just maybe, I should learn to weld.
The term "hot and bothered" usually has a sexual connotation. Unless you have spent your last $100 on a piece of meat, tossed it on a smoker, and tended it for 12 hours through smoke, sun, rain, heat, and mosquitoes, you haven't been truly hot and bothered. You want to understand what that feels like, read Franklin Barbecue. Me, I'm off to buy a welding mask.