North Texas Daily

Professor’s book discusses anthropology of BBQ

Professor’s book discusses anthropology of BBQ

March 01
00:16 2013

H. Drew Blackburn

Senior Staff Writer

Southerners have probably had barbecue at least once or twice in their life, and chances are, someone’s liked it.

UNT anthropology professor James R. Veteto co-edited “The Slaw and the Slow Cooked” with Edward M. Maclin, a faculty member at the University of Georgia. It was originally published in 2011 by Vanderbilt University Press and was released in paperback last year.

“It’s not a cookbook. It’s not really a travel book,” Veteto said. “Our idea is to investigate the cultural history of mid-south barbecue.”

The book is comprised mostly of oral history interviews, he said.

Veteto said that the south has four styles of barbecue: Texas, Carolinas, Kansas and Mid-South.

Loosely referencing John Shelton Reed, a notable food writer and sociologist, Veteto said that in the South the barbecue styles are the closest things we have to Europe’s wine and cheese regions. He said someone could drive 100 miles and the barbecue would change.

Throughout the book Veteto, Maclin and various colleagues touch on race, class and how it connects to barbecue.

He said that barbecue in the south goes as far back as the founding fathers cooking it at political rallies.

Veteto said that one of the main differences between the styles of other barbecue regions and Texas’ is the use of cattle in The Lone Star State, as opposed to pork, which is primarily used in the mid-south.

“Cattle ranching was one of the main occupations out here,” Veteto said. “People were trying to figure out how to make brisket, which is a cheap fatty cut of meat, into a desirable product.”

During the past summer sophomore business sophomore Nick Wallace and his brothers barbecued and sold their product on West Eldorado Parkway. They primarily use beef – a Texas staple.

“Cows are the dumbest and easiest animal to raise and the have the most meat on them,” Wallace said. “That’s how it all started.”

Wallace said he and his brother got introduced to barbecue at family reunions that fed about 80 people.

“It just became a challenge, whoever could make the best type of meat,” Wallace said.

Veteto also spent his childhood going to family barbeques but in Arkansas and western Tennessee.

Barbecue, Veteo said, is an important part of southern culture.

“Barbecue, interestingly, is considered to be sort of poor people’s food, but it seems like rich people really like it,“ Veteto said. “Especially when poor people make it.”

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