Some could say that barbecue is quintessentially American. It can be cooked in many different ways with a many different sauces — A food that accommodates all taste buds.
Jim Auchmutey is an award-winning journalist and editor who spent nearly 30 years at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He is also an acclaimed author, and has written extensively about food.
Jim was a guest curator for the Atlanta History Center’s exhibition, Barbecue Nation which inspired his latest book, “Smorelore: A Short History of Barbecue in America.” Auchmutey guides us through the history of barbecue while looking back on his own family’s history with it.
His grandfather, “Daddy Bob,” was a a respectable pit master in Bartow County and around northwest Georgia. Auchmutey grew to love barbecue at an early age due to most of his family being involved in the pork processing business.
Auchmutey chronicles the history of barbecue dating back its indigenous Caribbean origins. Barbecues have both political and racial ties throughout America’s history.
In his book, he examines how barbecues are much more than just a Southern “get together,” but a national phenomenon. “The whole “backyard cooking” thing didn’t start in the south, or in Texas; it actually started in California,” said Auchmutey.
“Smokelore” offers vivid photographs of postcards, restaurant favorites, and recipes. He also compares the Southerner’s debate over the best Brunswick Stew recipe and what sauce should go on a pork sandwich.
This story was originally published with audio on WABE.org.