Republic of Barbecue: Mind over Meat

[imgbelt img=repbbqsausage530.jpg]A newly published platter of Texas barbecue: scholarly research, with tasty sides of photography, interviews, lists, and even a toothpick dispenser.


Dublin Dr Pepper?

And, good lord, we’ll tell you all about the pleasures of our favorite barbecue joint, if you’re willing to listen.
[imgcontainer left] [img:repbbq180.jpg] Published October 2009 by University of Texas Press

Then again, thanks to the forthcoming Republic of Barbecue: Stories Beyond the Brisket (University of Texas Press), you could just curl up on the sofa and read about it. Though the cover credits UT Austin associate professor Elizabeth Engelhardt as the author, the volume’s really more of a mash-up of oral histories and academic essays served with a couple of cheeky sidebars (“Barbecue Melodies: Post Oak Smoke Gets in Their Eyes”). Engelhardt’s graduate students in the university’s American Studies department contributed much of the text and most of the photographs.  As an alumna of the UT graduate school myself, I can imagine the fun had by feasting on ribs and coleslaw in the name of “research” (wink, wink).

Most readers will get a kick out of the book, too–once they get used to the idea that the “republic” in the title covers only a chunk at the heart of the Lone Star State. I’ll leave the full stink to be raised over that definition to other reviewers and critics, but trust me that it’s coming, most likely from people living in North Carolina’s “research triangle,” an area that rivals Central Texas for its commitment to BBQ, football and top-tier academics. Bear in mind, however, that the book came to be at the urging of the Central Texas Barbecue Association, so a regional slant is to be expected. In addition, the University Cooperative Society (a campus bookstore headquartered across from the UT Austin campus) provided grant funding in support of the project. I’m willing to bet a cold Shiner Bock that the bookstore’s powers-that-be will market the book heavily to alumni and parents.