Friday, May 27, 2005

BBQ Tour

In Slate magazine today, David Plotz concedes what I have known for years: Texas has by far the best bbq on earth. He has been on a bbq tour going to all the most famous spots for bbq in the southern U.S. I found his exchange with an airport screener to be very typical of what someone in central Texas would say about his bbq tour. (Note: I have been to almost every bbq joint mentioned in this article, and they are all fantastic.)

"At the Austin airport, I was singled out for a special security screening. The TSA agent fingering through my bag pulled out a jar of barbecue sauce I had bought at Gates in Kansas City. "What's this?" she asked.

"It's barbecue sauce," I said.

"I know it's barbecue sauce. I mean, what kind of sauce is it? I've never seen this kind before."

"It's from Kansas City."

She grimaced at this. Holding the jar like it contained C-4 explosive, she showed it to another screener. "Look, this guy has some kind of barbecue sauce from New York City or something," she told the other screener derisively.

"Kansas City," I weakly interrupted.

She waved me off, then said in an ominous voice. "Now, why would you have that?"

"I was on a barbecue tour," I answered. "I started in Kansas City, and finished here."

"Did you go to Rudy's?" she asked.

I shook my head.

"You came to Texas for barbecue, and you didn't go to Rudy's?" She turned to her partner. "He came to Texas, and he didn't go to Rudy's!" The partner shook his head.

"What about the Salt Lick?" she asked. I shook my head no again. She made a face.

The partner continued the interrogation. "How about the County Line?"

I shook my head.

"Well, where did you go?" the screener asked in an exasperated voice.

"I went to Cooper's in Llano. And I went to Smitty's and Kreuz Market in Lockhart."

She lit up. "Well, why didn't you say that to begin with?" She nudged her partner. "He went to Lockhart." The partner nodded. The agent turned back to me, and handed me the bag and the sauce. "You can go ahead now."