“For anyone interested in the origins, history, methods and spectacle of whole-hog barbecue, this book is essential reading...Fertel leaves readers hungry not only for barbecue but also for the barbecue country he so engagingly maps” (The Wall Street Journal).
In the spirit of the oral historians who tracked down and told the stories of America’s original bluesmen, this is a journey into the southern heartland to discover the last of the great roadside whole hog pitmasters who hold onto the heritage and the secrets of America’s traditional barbecue.
In The One True Barbecue, Rien Fertel chronicles the uniquely southern art of whole hog barbecue—America’s original barbecue—through the professional pitmasters who make a living firing, smoking, flipping, and cooking 200-plus pound pigs.
More than one hundred years have passed since a small group of families in the Carolinas and Tennessee started roasting a whole pig over a smoky, fiery pit. Descendants of these original pitmasters are still cooking, passing down the recipes and traditions across generations to those willing to take on the grueling, dangerous task. This isn’t your typical backyard pig roast, and it’s definitely not for the faint of heart. This is barbecue at its most primitive and tasty.
Fertel finds the gatekeepers of real southern barbecue—including those who tend the fire at legendary spots like Bum’s, Wilber’s, Sweatman’s, Grady’s, the Skylight Inn, and three different places named Scott’s—to tell their stories and pay homage to the diversity and beauty of this culinary tradition. These pitmasters are now influencing a new breed of chefs and barbecue enthusiasts from Nashville to Brooklyn.
To quote Serious Eats: The One True Barbeque is “one damn good book about American barbecue.”
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About the Author
Rien Fertel is a Louisiana-born and based writer, historian, and teacher. He grew up in his family’s chain of restaurants across the country, and, after graduating from college, ran a grocery-deli in downtown New Orleans. Hurricane Katrina exiled him to New York, where he started writing about food. His work has appeared in Oxford American, Garden & Gun, Southern Living, Spirit, Saveur, The Local Palate, and many other publications. He holds a PhD in History, teaches in New Orleans, and divides his time between the banks of the Mississippi River and a 100-plus year old church in St. Martinville, Louisiana.
Table of Contents
Introduction: A Dying Breed 1
Chapter 1 Hungry 5
Chapter 2 The Ballad of Ricky Parker 21
Chapter 3 The Once and Future King of Barbecue 33
Chapter 4 The Prometheus of Pigs 65
Chapter 5 A Pitmaster's History of Barbecue 89
Chapter 6 My Own Private Barbecue 119
Chapter 7 Ricky Parker Builds a Legacy 133
Chapter 8 South Carolina: The Battleground State 143
Chapter 9 Will Success Spoil Rodney Scott? 175
Chapter 10 Brooklyn and Beyond 215
Chapter 11 Come July, 100 Whole Hogs 241
Epilogue: My One True Barbecue 249
Selected Sources 271