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Jul 29, 2007 09:58 PM

Why are people so passionate about 'Q and their favorite BBQ Joints?

What is it about BBQ (ribs, chicken, tri-tip, etc.) that evokes such passion in people?

Just seems to me that most people are rather protective, even territorial, about what place(s) serves the "best" and most proper BBQ.

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  1. BBQ is an art painted by many artists. Different styles come from different parts of the country and from different races. The secrets of bbq are passed down generation to generation, like family heirlooms, and gaurded like gold.

    The passion of and for it comes from it as part of your being. It is part of your fabric, your history and your culture. It is home.

    I'm a low country man, my father was very southern in his bbq. We did pork because poor people didn't have cows (land and feed are the issue). Beef bbq comes from places like Texas where they have land and grass. I tend to gravitate to low country bbq joints that lend toward soul food, which is what I'm used to and what I know. If someone were to put beef on a plate and tell me it was bbq, I'd just as soon slap 'em. ;)

    BBQ is like blues music. You know what you know from where you are from. It is part of you and your fabric based upon where you were born and the styles from there.

    Does that make it confusing enough?

    16 Replies
    1. re: holy chow

      Bbq seems closer to jazz to me-something created in America from a melding of many cultures, foreign and domestic, and blessed by both a common nature and a unique regional character.

      1. re: bbqboy

        The exception would be that BBQ goes back at least 4,000 years to Eastern Mexico...

        1. re: Eat_Nopal

          I'm not worried about who made what first, just the things that make American Cue distinct.
          From the 4 essential regional styles, now folks are adapting those to their own regions of the country and making cue their own, just as there were drums and horns before the culture created something to call our own.

          1. re: Eat_Nopal

            that is pretty debatable i think. bbq is a fusion of food cultures, which is why it is so interesting for food buffs to get into. i think you'd have a hard time proving your case to an arawak. the sheep and lamb and pigs being bbqed in mexico today certainly weren't around 4000 years ago. techniques develop according to the meats and other regional ingredients available, one of the main reasons why carolina q is spiced and sauced so differently from kc or texas q.

            i think that the op is more after WHY people are passionate about their hometown q, not WHICH hometown has the best q.

            ignoring whole regions of q, and the cultures which contributed to them, is disrespectful imo. i agree w bbqboy that bbq is part of american cultural history. food impacts history, history impacts food.

            1. re: soupkitten

              No doubt it is a complex debate with incomplete information... what I point out is that the oldest closed pits identified thus far, have been found near the site of La Venta... dates have proven a minimal ancientness of 2,000 B.C. (based on carbon dating of food remains in one pit)... however other pits are believed to date back at least to 4,000 B.C. Are these the first... or only that go that far back... hard to tell... sinced Closed Pit cooking is particular popular in tropical latitudes where archeological evidence rarely survives.

              In terms of the Arawaks... not a big deal, it is fairly well established that the Caribbean was populated by Ancient Mesoamericans. Just because the name Barbacoa or Barbeque is derived from the Taino language (whom the Spaniards encountered first) doesn't compromise its origins in the Mesoamerican mainland.

              Finally... sure the exact species of Lamb or Pig weren't arround in Pre-Hispanic times... that doesn't mean that Sheep & Boar species native to North America weren't used 4,000 years ago along with other things that STILL do get used in Mexican barbacoas... like rabbit, deer, armadillo, turkey etc.,

              Its pretty safe to conclude that BBQ is not something of U.S. invention... it goes much further back than Colombus... however it has been adapted into its own regional styles. Now I will point out that U.S. Q enthusiats overwhelmingly, consistently & erroneously constrict regional Q discussions to the U.S. ignoring that Q goes well beyond the borders here... and in fact originated elsewhere. Further... not only do U.S. Q enthusiasts ignorantly ignore non-U.S. Q... but they also forget about Hawaiian Q aka Kalua Pig!

              Finally... in terms of the OP... I was exactly, purposely, smugly being so passionate about Q & my favorite BBQ Joints to prove the point =)

              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                Not to rehash the BBQ debate EN and I engaged in awhile back ( if anyone is interested), but while the Taino tradition of slow cooking or drying meat on a wooden framework may be descended from an earlier mainland tradition, it is by no means clear that is actually the case. They may very well be completely separate cooking styles. Most descriptions of the Taino method describe an "open" pit style, with the cooking done above ground, as opposed to the "closed" pit style Eat Nopal is describing. This fact also supports the idea that the southest U.S. adopted BBQ from the Caribbean islands back in colonial days as open pit cooking is still considered the most traditional style of BBQ preparation here. While modern smokers have displaced this tradition to some degree, you can still find joints in the South doing things the old way, using "open" pits.

                1. re: Low Country Jon

                  That is interesting... I did not know that the Low Country method was open pit... that adds to the conversation quite a bit... and really establishes a double point of origin (not that open pit cooking wasn't common in ancient mesoamerica either).

            2. re: Eat_Nopal

              It goes back to the Taino Indians of Puerto Rico

              1. re: hotteacher1976

                The name does... not necessarily the technique. Don't forget the Puerto Rico, Hispaniola & Cuba were all populated from Eastern Mexico....

                1. re: Eat_Nopal

                  "Puerto Rico, Hispaniola & Cuba were all populated from Eastern Mexico."

                  Which may well be true for all I know, but really doesn't matter (in this context).
                  Mankind has been cooking meat over an open fire, often in some sort of hole in the ground, since fire was first discovered. Indeed, it was the *only* way to cook until some prehistoric genius invented the clay pot after who-knows-how-many thousands of years. So BBQ, broadly defined as slow cooked smoked meats, has existed in every culture, in every land, since time immemorial. Arguing about who started what, when and where is just silly IMO.

                  The origins of the word are what most people are really discussing, when they think they're talking about the technique. The technique may well predate the facility for language itself, but I'm sure people have been arguing about it since they learned how to talk.

                  And back to the original topic, I think this primal, primitive nature is why BBQ attracts so much <ahem> discussion.

                  1. re: Eat_Nopal

                    Do you really think the "ancient" cooking techniques were really "Q"? My take on it is that they just cooked the holy tar (rawness) out of anything and ate it. "Q" implies smoke cooked vs open flame. What say you?

                    1. re: feelinpeckish

                      Absolutely.... you really need to get down to Mexico to understand. You can get to these villages were the primary language is anything but Spanish (Mexico has over 100 native languages... not including dialects)... where you have to make the final leg on burro.... the vast majority of the ingredients will be native.... and the Q is absolutely succulent, smokey with crisp edges, one of the absolute best things you will ever taste.

                      I described the traditional methods on this thread.... to be true Closed Pit Q... it isn't just smoked but it also includes a steam component (many pitmasters in Texas do understand this... but many have also abandoned it... and that is why you can get dryish results... that they then try to cover up with BBQ sauce).

                      When I have had Pescado Zarandeado in the similarly remote Mexcatitlan, Nayarit (the Open Pit method of slow cookingli fish high above a smoky mesquite fire)... the results have been equally stunning and probably similar to what the Tainos in the Caribbean named Barbeque.

                      1. re: Eat_Nopal

                        When I do a shoulder, I smoke it for about 9 hours then put it in a roasting pan and tent it for another 9 or so hours. (Yes I know it's not "Authentic" but if it's good enough for the fine people at Jack Daniels, it's good enough for me) I then drain the juice (Goodness) out of the pan into a vessel and let the fat separate. After skimming the fat, I add some of that goodness back into the now shredded meat. It's so moist and succulent. I usually sprinkle seasoning on it at that time too. No need for sauce after that. You can if you like though.


                        1. re: Davwud

                          Slightly different technique but it sounds like it accomplishes the same goal. I don't know if I mentioned it.... but Barbacoa around Mexico City is usually served with a side bowl of the Consomme so you can dip the meat or tacos, before adding a spoonful of Salsa Borracha (Chipotle & Pulque or Beer salsa)

                          1. re: Eat_Nopal

                            That just sounds like it doesn't hurt.


                  2. re: hotteacher1976

                    Just to make sure I knew what I was talking about.... I read up quickly... the first people to populate the Carribbean are now referred to as the Casimiroids (at least by academia).... and they crossed through what is known as the Yucatan Passage (a relatively short - 125 miles - stretch of open water with currents that run west to east - one of the few places in the Carribbean where this is true). After arriving in Cuba and settling that island.... they later crossed the narrower Windward Passage to Hispaniola. This occurred as early as 4,000 to 6,000 years ago.

                    About 500 B.C. a new Pre-Taino group of Andean origins crossed from Grenada to Trinidad... and then pushed up north.... eventually blending with the original Casimiroids to form what is today known as the Pan Taino culture which goes by different names in various geographies.... such as the Boricuas (Puerto Rico), Guajiros (Cuba), Carib & Arawaks (Bahamas) etc.,

                    Alot of this information has been recently filled by new DNA testing technologies... which surprisingly revealed that 61% of Puerto Ricans have Taino ancestry... to the desbelief of Academics & Official Historians who asserted for many centuries that Native Americans in the Carribbean were an extinct group.

                    So the picture is pretty clear.... if the oldest known traditions of Closed Pit & Open Pit cooking are in Eastern Mexico... and if the Carribbean was itself first populated via Eastern Mexico (around the same time... that archeological evidence exists for Closed Pit cooking)... its pretty clear that BBQ.... whether Closed Pit or Open Pit... originates in Mexico. And my mind - at least - it should help settle the debates between Texas & Carolinas about "real" Q.... the history pretty much shows that Carolina had an Open Pit Q tradition during Colonial Times... while Texas got its Closed Pit Q tradition from Mexico prior to annexation... they are two different & equally respectable techniques.... all the rivalry comes from the Spaniards inability to codify foods & cooking correctly. Carolina is correct in that the word Barbecue does originally refer to Open Pit cooking in the Taino language.... and the Spaniards were mistaken to adopt Barbacoa as the name for Mexico's Closed Pit Cooking traditions.

                    In the end what matters is good chow.... but I hope U.S. Q enthusiasts never forget that there are more Ancient Q traditions outside of the Continental U.S. and any serious discuss on Regional variations should include these. I can tell from first hand.... that Mexicans are extremely passionate & proud of our Q traditions... whether we are talking Lamb in Hidalgo & Mexico states.... Pibil in the Yucatan.... or Pescado Zarandeado in Nayarit (an Open Pit method of slow cooking fish)... people are serious & deserve credit. And when we talk about special dishes in Mexican cuisine.... those around the Ancient Q traditions come up over & over again.

            3. Although I agree with holy chow, I'd add a slightly different take. BBQ is by and large a guy thing: good for people who otherwise don't know how to cook, it involves fire and burning slabs of meat and guys standing around the grill or pit. Gotten to the point that I now see (on these same CH pages) references to "grillmasters".

              41 Replies
              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                I agree with both Sam and holy chow-- it's both a long-standing cultural thing for many and also a social thing. But there is also a whole "travelling bbq" culture now that is a bit weird. I think BBQ has the image of being "authentic" and highly localized, and while it certainly still is in many places, people glom onto its "authenticity" without a lot of knowledge. There are lots of down-home looking bottled sauces, bbq festivals, marketing campaigns, declarations of "best", and of course, lots of crappy food. When the story about the sauce is better than the sauce itself...beware.

                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                  "good for people who otherwise dont know how to cook..."...?

                  I learned how to cook in professional kitchens for years before I ever attempted to buy and use a smoker at my home. Using a smoker properly & turning out good BBQ is one of the harder things to learn, and do well in my opinion.

                  My BBQ does not involve cooking over fire, it involves wood smoke, long hours of monitoring, and BBQr's do not "burn" slabs of meat.

                  There is a difference between BBQ, and grilling, lets not confuse the two. BBQ is cooking meat slow and low using a smoker, where the heat source is typically a fire box filled with wood chunks. Grilling is cooking over direct heat, or flame. Big difference.

                  1. re: swsidejim

                    swsidejim, I knew I'd get smoked for that comment by some of the serious BBQers. But, admit it, 99% of the guys out there aren't operating at the level you are; and most of them don't otherwise cook.

                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                      Perhaps you are right Sam, I may be different than alot of the folks you mention. I do all the cooking, menu planning, and grocery shopping in my household, and am finally as comfortable outside with the smoker as I am with the convection oven, saute pan, etc inside.

                      1. re: swsidejim

                        I have to take Jim's side on this one. I do a lot of cooking. I can throw together a lot of different things and call them dinner. Whether it's to please myself or any other number of people. The thing is, if I have problems, I can look at a recipe. For BBQ, there really are no recipes. Ya, people post recipes and publish them. But the truly great stuff is all about experience. You have to have put your time in to do it right. it requires much more skill that you can ever imagine going in.


                      2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                        how do you know that?

                        bbq is about flavor and texture. regional plays into that issue of taste. i love fall off the bones smoked baby backs. others have other opinions
                        opinions and passions are about
                        the taste and texture.

                      3. re: swsidejim

                        Quality BBQ is an art.
                        Sam seems to have the common problem of confusing BBQ, and grilling.
                        Years ago I had a Brinkman smoker. I followed the instructions on how to smoke everything from Turkey's to Ribs to Roast. It was a bitch. Temperture, rubs, marinades, I gave up. It is not something you pick up a book and do well.
                        I have great respect for those with the passion to do it well.

                        1. re: Bobfrmia


                          I have almost given up a few times myself, when the end result was not as good as I had hoped, or that I'd had at some bbq joint somewhere. But I get back up on the horse, and keep trying.

                          I find mastering a smoker much more difficult than making sauces, stock, soups, and almost every other thing I do from scratch in my kitchen. Its not just as simple as throwing some meat on the smoker for hours, and forgetting about it while you drink yourself silly with some friends(although my best bbq does require a few beers to be consumed ; ) ).

                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                              BBQ is really a form of cooking with indirect heat that can have smoke, steaming, dry heat.... Mexican Closed Pit combines all three, Contemporary U.S. Closed Pit does only Smoke & Dry Heat.... North Carolina, Caribbean, Coastal Mexico is usually dry heat + light smoke on an Open Pit... with the exception of the Yucatecan Open Pit styles (like Cochinita Pibil & Alligator Gar Tikin Xic) which includes a little bit of a steam component as well (from the marindade dripping off & causing steam).

                              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                One of my richest memories is of watching the pitmaster at AB's occasionally throwing a saucepan of water on the coals and closing the pit door, but not before the resulting cloud of smoke that would fill the room.

                                1. re: bbqboy

                                  There you go... and could you tell us more about AB's?

                                  1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                    Sorry, Arthur Bryant's. Though Arthur died, his knowledge and skills survived through his employees to this day.
                                    a little history:

                                  2. re: bbqboy

                                    yes there is generally a steam element in american bbq as well-- steam pan in the bottom of the smoker, mop sauce dripping on the coals, etc.

                                    1. re: soupkitten

                                      I then take my assessment back (I was under the assumption that most of the industrial equipment sold to BBQ in the U.S. restaurants did not come with a steam pan in the configuration).

                                      1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                        You needn't take back your assessment. Most commercial BBQ equipment does not have integral water pans. Be that as it may, it's easy enough to place a pan of water on the bottom of the smoker, or on one of the racks, if the capacity is not fully utilized. For brisket, a somewhat humid envronment sure helps both against shrinkage and dryness of the meat.

                                        1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                          that's true!-- however most small home smokers come with a steam pan, and many if not most restaurant pitmasters i've seen working insert their own steam pans into the commercial pit or figure out another way to get humidity in the air inside the smoker--i've seen some crazy homemade rigs too! depends on what is being cooked; the bigger the cut, the more important the steam is. pitmasters who work with real wood generally soak the wood in water prior to adding it to the already hot coals, so the wood releases a lot of moisture as well as flavor from the smoke, it's an effective humidifier no matter what size pit you're working with.

                                          1. re: soupkitten

                                            The water pans in small home smokers are used to diffuse heat from the coals, not to provide a humid cooking environment. Many experienced users are putting sand in the water pan or replacing the pan with a clay flower pot base. The only time you might see wood being soaked in water is wood chips that are to be spread across coals when grilling. Wood chunks and logs are not soaked prior to being tossed into the coals.

                                            And just for the record....if BBQ beef or pork is dry, it is overcooked.

                                            1. re: SuperCorona

                                              hmm, i don't think we're talking about the same process here, SuperCorona. i'm talking about the water pan in the base of a tower smoker with an offset firebox. it's not diffusing heat from the coals because the coals are not "in the same room" as the water pan, so to speak. the food is not being grilled, it's being bbqed using smoke.

                                              1. re: soupkitten

                                                I think we have described the differences between True 'Q and Grilling ad naseum... but its worth noting the expected or desired results of the 'Q techniques:

                                                > Crisp, smokey edges
                                                > Ultra Tender... you can cut the meat into shreds with a fork
                                                > Rich, concentrated meaty flavor

                                                There are many varieties of 'Q as we have noted... but those are the basic results we look for among all varieties...

                                                > You don't get meat this tender by grilling... even if you are working with the best piece of aged Filet Mignon you've ever seen... its not as tender as true 'Q

                                                > You certainly don't get rich, concentrated meaty flavor like this by grilling

                                                1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                  I'm not certain that "ultra-tender" is a consideration in all Q, but it seems to be in all pork Q. People seem to like their pork BBQ fall-off-the-bone tender, in the case of ribs, and butter-tender in the case of shoulder. Since I don't eat pork products, I'm not tied to that standard. When making beef ribs, they're typically overdone when they fall off the bone. Yes, they should be tender, but there should also be a chewiness to them, or a need to chew them, rather than just to suck the meat off the bone and down the gullet. and brisket must be able to hold together as slices, rather than breaking down into individual muscle fibers. So while I agree that in all BBQ, it must be tender as appropriate, fork-shredding tender is not always the standard which is appropriate.

                                                  1. re: ganeden

                                                    Pork ribs should NOT "Fall off the bone" if cooked properly. They should keep their integrity but be, as you described it, "Butter tender" when bitten into.


                                                    1. re: Davwud

                                                      I've been trying to figure out "fall off the bone" versus "butter tender" as you describe it, which seems to be the new litmus test for rib lovers. I've heard it expressed another way, which is the meat shouldn't fall off the bone, but it should come right off the bone when you pull it with your teeth. Well, I think that's what most people mean when they say "fall off the bone." It seems to mostly be a matter of semantics from what I can tell. If the meat LITERALLY fell off the bone, the ribs would never make it to the plate intact. It would just be a pile of meat instead, though probably still pretty tasty. Now, some may say you shouldn't be able to SHAKE the meat off the bone either, but this seems to me to be splitting hairs. Are we talking light shake or hard shake? And how do those shakes compare to pulling it with your teeth? I think what most rib lovers want is meat that comes away from the bone with little effort, but still has the consistency of meat, not "goo" as bbqboy aptly phrases it.

                                                      1. re: Low Country Jon

                                                        I love a description I heard recently for the "meat falling off the bone" version of "ribs". It was called "meat jello". I love it.

                                                        I use my smoker exclusively for ribs, & the meat requires a slight tug with the teeth, and it comes off the bone.

                                                    2. re: ganeden

                                                      Yes. I didn't grow up with pulled pork in KC, but we did have tremendous sliced pork sandwiches. This pulled pork thing has spread
                                                      over the nation to become the idea of a pork sandwich, but I much prefer the sliced, usually in a combination sandwich with brisket on 2 pieces of bread. It doesn't feel like goo in your mouth.

                                                      1. re: bbqboy

                                                        There are still plenty of places that do chopped pork. It's a relative of PP but it's certainly different in texture in my mind.

                                                        As well, Pulled Pork is becoming the catch all phrase for smoke pork shoulder. In the area that Mrs. Sippis is from, it's simply BBQ. As in, a BBQ sandwich.


                                2. re: swsidejim

                                  What swsidejim said. I am a very good home cook who can conceive of and execute original recipes (well, maybe not completely original--most things with food are at least partially based on something else). The SO and I only recently got a smoker and have only had moderate success so far. We took off both our brisket and pork shoulder too soon, and these needed to be finished in the oven, though they did have good smoke rings and flavor. Ribs are next on the list to try, and I imagine it will take quite some time to gain expertise in using our smoker.

                                  And fwiw, grilling over natural lump charcoal isn't the easiest thing either, as you can't control the temperature as easily as you can with a gas stove. And it's not just a guy thing. Over the 4th I tend to visit my parents, and I have taken control over their gas grill away from my dad while I'm there because he routinely overcooks things.

                                  1. re: diva360

                                    Good for you Diva.

                                    Good to have some of the ladies out by the grill/pit.


                                    1. re: Davwud

                                      Thanks, Davwud. I actually found myself grilling fish for fish tacos shortly after getting off the plane on that recent trip. My brother found it very amusing that I was grilling in my usual traveling outfit: a jersey dress and sandals with 2 inch heels that are much more comfortable than they look. The image of petite me "manning" the grill sporting that feminine outfit completely went against the stereotype he and a lot of other people associate with grilling and barbecuing. I've always thought, if I like to eat it, I should learn how to make it, and that has guided how I've learned to cook.

                                      1. re: diva360

                                        I'm with you on that one. If I eat something and like it, you can rest assured I'm on the internet the next day finding out how to make it or what is in it at least.


                                3. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                  THAT'S exactly what BBQ mean here in OZ.

                                    1. re: bbqboy


                                      Here, a BBQ is a whole lot of blokes standing around, scratching their nethers, swigging bourbon and burning random dead mammals.

                                      There is a direct correlation between the size of a man's **ahem** bits and how many burner's he's got.

                                      You can't hold you head up in public, if you've only got 2 burners and your mate's got 6.

                                      Tru dat.

                                      1. re: purple goddess

                                        Have to admit, I was a bit surprised by the places in Sydney where you
                                        pick your steak, chops, etc. from the counter, and then grill them yourself on a large central grill, whilst conversing with complete strangers. Thankfully, all of them refrained from scratching their nethers, although a not insignificant minority kept referring to "keeping the abos out of the sheep dip" and calling each other "Bruce".

                                        1. re: KevinB

                                          That sounds cool.

                                          If I ever make it down under, I'll definately have to give that a try.


                                        2. re: purple goddess

                                          That sounds more like grilling than barbecue.

                                    2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                      braising is to BBQ as sauteeing is to then end everyone gets a great meal, YIPPEE!!

                                      Jfood's father burnt everything on the grill; Jfood's mom burnt everything on the stove. That is why jfood has great knife skills, needed to surgically remove the burnt to get to the meat.

                                      Then we served iced tea in those metal, pastel colored glasses and they would stick to your lips and you bled when you pulled it away.

                                      Cavemen cooked over the grill and therefore it remains a guy thing.

                                      BBQ is a wonderful thing, it's here and who cares where it came from whether Jane of Dick cooks it, just as long as there's enough to go around.

                                      Jfood loves BBQ and grilled stuff.

                                      Sorta a jfood triple Haiku dedication to the topic.

                                      1. re: jfood

                                        I fondly recall those colored metal glasses. When the condensation grew with the heat outdoors, they were SO COOL to the touch. We used them for camping trips. (and swiping across a forehead!)

                                        1. re: alkapal

                                          jfood raises a good point. For me at least.
                                          I'm from Canada. I have no alegience to a local type of q. I've had it from a few different regions and the botton line is, it's all good. As long as it's done well of course. Over cooked is over cooked whether you're in NC, TN, KS or TX.


                                      2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                        here you go Sam. You are right too. Excess is what makes America great.

                                        1. re: bbqboy

                                          Thanks. You know its mostly a guy thing if it involves expensive toys.

                                      3. Low country, Texas, St. Louis... its all irrelevent the best BBQ hands down is found around the town of Texcoco in Central Mexico.... all others including the Hidalgo, Oaxacan, Guadalajara & Yucatan styles only deserve honerable mentions =)

                                        13 Replies
                                        1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                          Eat Nepal, I love my smoky brisket, and pulled pork with mustard sauce and occasionally good ribs, but your post has piqued my interest.

                                          What are you cooking and who does it best? Ive had some great BBQ goat that was divine.

                                          BTW, Is it just me or does the best BBQ come from roadside shacks that seem to be 2-3 critical violations from being closed by the health dept? My experience is that any joint with a waitress, plates other than paper, real glasses or carpet on the floor isn't worth eating.

                                          1. re: Kelli2006

                                            In Texcoco, Mexico City & Hidalgo.... the meat of choice is whole lamb that is wrapped in Agave & Avocado Leaves... placed over a pot of soup... inside a covered clay pit. Secondary forms of Q include chicken, turkey, duck & fish... usually whole beasts... usually referred to as Barbacoa.

                                            In Guadalajara's suburbs (really cobblestone towns that have been engulfed by development) and towns of Jalisco... the Q of choice is Goat that is marinated in a complex melange of dried chiles, herbs, spices etc.,... the common name for Q here is Birria.

                                            In Oaxaca... the choice is Goat again.... also marinated but referred to as Barbacoa.

                                            In the Yucatan... the choice is Pork and/or Boar, Peccary etc., marinated in Achiote, Sour Oranges, Garlic, Allspice etc., and wrapped in Banana Leaves and referred to as Pibil.

                                            In terms of woods used... it depends on where you are but combinations of Mesquite, Pecan and trees native to Mexico such as Ahuehetes, Pirul & others. Lamb barbacoa tends to be heavier on smoke... whereas Pibil tends to be lighter etc.,

                                            There are many other regional variations... but these are the famous ones. In terms of locations....

                                            The gigantic Restaurante Arroyo in Mexico City does very good Barbacoa... but as good as it is.... 10,000 of thousands of Mexico City residents do the 90 minute drive to Texcoco every weekend to eat at the humble roadside eateries.


                                          2. re: Eat_Nopal

                                            St. Louis?
                                            What wood(s) do they use in central Mexico, Nopal?

                                            1. re: bbqboy

                                              i think he must mean kansas city style, maybe, unless i'm misunderstanding. . .

                                            2. re: Eat_Nopal

                                              Since you are telling us what is "the best" BBQ in the world, can you narrow that down a little more to the exact pit and pitmaster that does "the best" so that we need not waste our time on anything else?

                                              1. re: ddavis

                                                No waste of time.... the average pit in Texcoco is so far superior to the legendary eateries I've been to in Texas & Raleigh, NC... that it is inconceivable to me that there is a better region out there.

                                                If I had to choose a specific pit... the best I have eaten was arguably from my uncle Armando's underground clay pit. It was Kid (he raised himself)... done in the Birria style over mesquite, huisache & roble wood from his Rancho Santo Domingo on KM 5 of the Tlacuitapan-San Jose de los Olivares road in the Highlands of Jalisco

                                                1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                  For the record, I don't think too many die-hard fans of eastern NC BBQ would list any "legendary" places in Raleigh.

                                                  For those interested, here is a pretty good (though not undisputed) map guide to NC BBQ:


                                                  1. re: Low Country Jon

                                                    Amen, Low Country Jon! I live in Raleigh, and don't eat the BBQ here. I head to Goldsboro, or Dudley, or LaGrange (on Wednesdays), or between Chapel Hill and Hillsborough. Thanks for the map. Raleigh BBQ just doesn't cut it most times.

                                                    1. re: OrganicGal

                                                      Please excuse my Left Coast perspective I tend to use Raleigh to mean the Triangle & peripheral areas. From here... they look so close on the map =)

                                                    2. re: Low Country Jon

                                                      We ate at Allen & Son as well as Stamey's. Both very good... but not close to my favorites (a little dry, flavor was one dimensional & the pairings weren't that well matched with the Q).

                                                      1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                        Stamey's is Western NC/Central NC/Lexington style, rather than Eastern NC style, and I hear tell it's gone downhill in recent years. The general consensus I've seen on these boards is that Allen & Sons is one of the best BBQ places in the Triangle area, if not the best, but it's still inferior to some of the joints further east like Skylinght Inn and Wilber's. I can attest to the uniquness of Skylight's 'cue. I had it once 10 years ago, and the memory still lingers.

                                                        All this being said, even if you (Eat Nopal) were to go to one of these places on their best days, I wouldn't expect you would think their BBQ to be superior to that of your own corner of the world (or the corner you originally came from). Tastes are very subjective, and the foods we grow up with tend to have a hold on us like no other. That's why, while I will engage in debates about the origins and authenticity of various BBQ styles, I don't venture to lable any the best. It's an unprovable point, obviously. Hopefully, one day I'll be able to sample the Mexican closed pit 'cue you have desribed so well. I hope so, and I hope it blows me away. But don't be surprised if I still prefer the 'cue I grew up with over any other!

                                                        1. re: Low Country Jon

                                                          "I wouldn't expect you would think their BBQ to be superior to that of your own corner of the world (or the corner you originally came from)."

                                                          =) That is the whole point of the thread... right? I agree there is no way to really proclaim a best.... because there is so much more to the dining experience than "quantifiable" metrics.

                                                          With that said... I really do think that American 'cue enthusiasts would be quite impressed with South of the Border 'cue. In my experience... Americans who try it usually really, really dig it.

                                                          Of course most don't recognize it as BBQ... because they don't really know what real 'Q is to start with it (they still think of grilled meats with thick layers of sweet bbq sauce etc.,) not the stuff you get in North Carolina or Texas.

                                                          Never been further East than the Triangle.... hopeful I can get out to Outer Banks some day.... and swing down to your recommended places on the way.

                                                  2. re: ddavis

                                                    What is a "pitmaster"? Are they certified?

                                                2. I think it's a huge regional, pride-involved area of food. I grew up in Kansas City, MO, and there isn't much to our namesake except BBQ and good meat. Personally, you feel a loyalty and protectiveness to something that your region or city or whatever excels at, and BBQ is no exception. I love KC BBQ and think it's hands down the best BBQ I've ever eaten, even after trying every style from the US and a few worldwide.

                                                  BBQ is also one of those categories where there isn't a real wide consensus on where the best is. You could argue that many people agree the best pizza comes from either NYC or Chicago. Or the best lobster rolls come from Maine. BBQ is all over the country, and will always be contested since the styles are so different. For any foodie, you're passionate about what you love, and BBQ is just that area where people aren't just passionate, they're practically fanatical. I'm proud to be one of them!

                                                  PS - KC style BBQ, Arthur Bryant's on Brooklyn is the best!!

                                                  Arthur Bryant's Barbeque
                                                  1727 Brooklyn Ave, Kansas City, MO 64127

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: reubensandperrier

                                                    I have to agree with you 100%. Not just because I too am from KC. I do want to add that Jack Fiorella's Jack Stack (AKA The Smoke Stack) is my personal favorite. I will say that there's very little in this world that can compete with a heap of Arthur Bryant's greasy pork piled high on two slices of white bread.

                                                    Too bad Arthur Bryant's doesn't ship!

                                                  2. Except for the cuts of meat used, 2 BBQ places located side by side can have quite dissimilar styles of BBQ, with dissimilar flavors and textures as well. So even though the brisket or pork shoulder or ribs start out exactly the same, the finished product is largely a reflection of the skill and taste of the pitmaster who produced it. Contrast that to Coq au Vin made by 2 different chefs, which share more characteristics both in flavor and texture. There are so many different variables that there's almost always a difference between one BBQ and the next, which is why, when one finds the perfect BBQ to suit his one taste, one tends to adopt it, and share the trials and tribulations, successes and failures of the BBQ joint- it becomes like a best friend or family member. I suppose the same is true of other cuisines as well, and we might find a particular Beef Wellington that suites our fancy more than others, but really, how different is 1 Beef Wellington than another? But there's another aspect to
                                                    BBQ, and that's the sauce, or lack of it (relying on the house blend rub). How many ways can you make a Bearnaise, and have it truly reflect the identity of it? But BBQ sauce is different, in that it can be made from anything, can be tomatoey or syrupy or vinegary or winey or hot or mild or salty or sweet, the only requirement being that someone somewhere believes it complements the flavors of the meat. So how much wood smoke, and the kind of wood flavor, and the seasoning blend, and how much is used, and how dry or moist is the meat, or the toughness, and whether it's sporting a bark or is relatively naked or pasty, whether it's sauced, and how that sauce tastes, there can be a tremendous number of variables to differentiate one Q from another. And when it's good, it satisfies our carnivorous instincts as we ravenously suck it down, craving more regardless of extent of hunger, while when it's not so appealing, it's just another meal.