Barbecue aficionados and lovers of true Southern barbecue alike should enjoy reading Holy Smoke: The Big Book Of North Carolina Barbecue, written by John Shelton Reed, Dale Volberg Reed and William McKinney. These knowledgeable authors delve into the rich history and unique traditions associated with real Southern barbecue, basting it throughout with humor and cleverly seasoning it with smart anecdotes.
Backyard barbecue enthusiasts should thoroughly enjoy the book even though it tends to lean heavily towards the history side of barbecue instead of towards the sharing of recipes or being a how-to tutorial outlining cooking methods. For those that are fascinated by the rich and colorful history of true Southern style barbecue, this book is full of interesting facts and wonderful stories that make up the heritage of barbecue in North Carolina. Reading this book is almost like sitting in a favorite rocking chair on a front porch on a lazy Southern summer afternoon sipping on sweet tea and listening to relatives reminisce about past events.
From the East to the West ends of North Carolina to the Piedmont area’s style of barbecue, these authors offer instructions for the home cooking of barbecue, along with recipes featured throughout. Also featured is an interesting presentation on side dishes that should be served along with barbecue for its greatest enjoyment. The writers are absolutely passionate about the subject they present and are well versed in its nuances.
A part of what makes this book so endlessly fascinating is found in the last section of the book which talks to some of the people responsible for cooking this historic barbecue, and their take on the future of barbecue in the Tar Heel state. With a history going back to the 1600’s, there may not be a truce found any time soon in the long-standing battle over sauces, wood, meat, cooking methods and other factors used to create such a long and famous history of barbecue.
The Reeds, John Shelton and Dale Volberg are a married couple who previously authored a book about all the things that every person should know about the South. And John Shelton Reed has previously been a judge in a renowned Memphis World Championship barbecue competition. William McKinney is a founder of the Carolina Barbecue Society. When the three of them joined forces to create this book, nothing else could have possibly come from such a collaboration other than a very interesting historical book rich with North Carolina barbecue history and traditions, sprinkled with recipes and great ideas for re-creating this exceptional barbecue at home.
In this book, the authors offer a sample of a blueprint for creating a barbecue pit for those that are interested in doing that. This is something not normally seen in other books that are simply recipe books. These instructions can potentially be very helpful to connoisseurs of genuine pit style barbecue. Readers can learn everything in this book from building a barbecue pit, to the ingredients in sauces and side dishes to the differences in cooking whole hogs and other meats. As a bonus, there are some very interesting dessert recipes included in its pages.
And if readers never actually do these things, especially building ones own backyard barbecue pit, they can at least learn about them and about the history of one of the world’s most famous barbecues and its unique cooking style. This book is very easy to read with fascinating old photographs of real barbecue places. Many barbecue traditions are held dear in the South and are handed down through the generations. Cooking true Southern pit barbecue the old-fashioned way is essentially a combination of art and science, blended with a dash of creativity and showcasing the unique flair of the barbecue master. This book is a fantastic resource for those interested in the art of pit barbecue and in the history of Southern barbecue, so famously steeped in tradition.