I thought this term original until this past weekend, after Mike and I descended upon Austin, Texas, last Friday. Since then, we’ve headed to a half dozen BBQ outlets, notably Franklin’s in town and Louis Mueller’s out in the fine town of Taylor some 90 miles away. As if that wasn’t enough meat, we then ended up at the Texas Monthly BBQ Fest in Austin where then grazed through another 17 famed BBQ spots. This coincided with their once-every-five-years list of “The 50 Best BBQ Joints in the World” (Surprisingly all are located in Texas!) Imagine 3,000 people milling around amid wafts of smoked meat mingling with the beer warming in the gift of November sun as southern blues blaring on a stage below. Even a bite of brisket samples from a half dozen places fills, and quickly. Within an hour, people all around me started discussing “meat sweats.” If unfamiliar, when used in a sentence, it sounds like this:
“Oh s**t, man, tonight I ain’t gonna sleep. I’m gonna have me some meat sweats. Pass me another napkin. Did you try Cousins? That sausage is the bomb.”
All of this carnage surrounded the (supposedly) real purpose for our trip: to watch our good friend Jack have his new pit blessed by the meat scientists at Texas A&M University. You see, Jack plans to open a central Texas BBQ joint right in Seattle. To do that, he searched the miracle that is Craigslist and found a massive smoker in his hometown Houston. He enlisted a childhood friend to hook the thing up and drive it to College Station, home of Texas A&M so it could be hit with a bottle of Lone Star. A couple of years ago, Jack participated in Meat 101 and BBQ Summer Camp at his alma mater.
He stood there, a proud father of 13,500 pounds of steel as Dr. Jeff Savell, acted as minister of the affair. “It’s so great that you’re taking something so special from Texas to the Pacific NW. You have this passion — not just to feed yourself — but to feed people out there. It’s like spreadin’ the word of a missionary.”
Jack beamed, thanking them, and adding that his experience with the program “literally changed my life.”
Shooting the whole thing was this fascinating photographer Robert J. Lerma, who specializes in BBQ photography. He started his photography career shooting crime scenes. Now, he shoots BBQ as a hobby. (His work is amazing; you should go check it out.)
What goes on in inside a meat sciences department? A lot of clean surfaces, and… a lot of knives. To get some insight on Meat 101 and the rest of our Austin trip, check out my friend Deirdre’s fabulous blog in which she explains, among other things, why BBQ is served on paper. Hint: It has to do with Jim Crow laws.
Now, I’ve got some sweatin’ to do. Might start a juice cleanse on Tuesday.