Sunday, April 6, 2014

Hungry Heart - Peace, Love, and Barbecue

Hungry Heart, my eighth book for Samhain set in Konigsburg, Texas, is all about barbecue. My two heroes and two heroines become a barbecue team for the big Konigsburg Barbecue Cookoff. This is, of course, based on something that really exists—barbecue contests are held all around the country because every part of the country does their own barbecue. And everybody will tell you their region’s barbecue is the best there ever was. I’ve had a chance to test a few of these claims. When we used to drive from Texas to Iowa for Christmas, we’d make it a point to stop in Kansas City to have ribs at Jack’s Stacks, slow cooked with lots of sauce and absolutely yummy. But back home in San Antonio we’d order brisket from Barbecue Station—wonderful smoky meat, but no sauce, you understand, because sauce was the invention of Satan. It’s been a while since I had barbecue in Tennessee or Louisiana, but I remember it being a bit more vinegary, and definitely falling into the sauce camp. Now I live in foodie heaven between Denver and Boulder, Colorado, and I have to put up with some budding super chef’s idea of what barbecue sauce should be (possibly involving pomegranate molasses), along with sides like sweet potato fries and fava beans (which are better than kale, I have to admit). Texans would weep.

My characters are having none of that. One hero, the Barbecue King (a.k.a. Harris Temple) has his own barbecue truck and does a brisket to die for. The other, Chico Burnside, is a pork shoulder fanatic with a secret rub. Neither makes sauce. And you should hear Harris on the subject of potato salad, particularly that made by his true love, sous chef (and foodie) Darcy Cunningham.

I had a great time in barbecue land, but I still ask for my sauce on the side. So what about you? What’s your barbecue experience? And don’t you agree that Texas makes the best brisket on the planet?

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