Chew on This

Look at the truths: I have never written a fan letter in my life, and if someone had told me my first would be to comment on an article about the history of barbecue ["Barbecue in Black and White," by Robb Walsh, May 1], I probably would have laughed my ass off at them.

That said, I felt compelled to let you know that your article was one of the best pieces I've read in quite some time. I'm assuming that you are white, and I applaud you for your objectivity and for the honesty that you penned your piece with. It was truly refreshing.

That you were able to slip such great social commentary into a piece about food was brilliant. With any luck, some people who might never otherwise have been reached may now be moved to examine the truths they take for granted. I commend you for your excellent article and for your obvious passion about the subject.

Christopher Cash

Still Garners interest: I really enjoyed your article. I still miss the classic barbecue of Matt Garner on West Gray near downtown, which went out of business many years ago.

Mr. Garner had perhaps the best hand-stuffed barbecue links that I have ever enjoyed. Give us suggestions concerning the best hand-stuffed barbecue links currently available in Houston. Many thanks.

David Hittner, U.S. District Judge

Here's the beef: This guy Robb Walsh has been using your publication to try to develop a theory of barbecue in general and a theory of Texas barbecue in particular for some time. Unfortunately, he has failed and has produced only gibberish.

The fact that Walsh lacks the evidence with which he might be able to construct a cogent theory doesn't seem to stop him from writing or the Houston Press from publishing his drivel.

Walsh concludes that Texas barbecue exists only on a line that extends from Conroe in "East Texas" through Houston to Austin. This is a limited sampling of barbecue by anyone's measure, except maybe some dude's from New Jersey.

He cites "readings in libraries" to support his claim of racism in Texas barbecue cook-offs, restaurants and cooking styles. Monkey-writing (you know, chimps and typewriters) comes to mind.

Dude, don't try to tie barbecue to your goofy social speculations. Try some from South Texas, West Texas, North Texas and the Panhandle. Heck, maybe some misguided soul will invite you for homemade barbecue. Finally, try to cook some barbecue. Who knows, you might at least be good at that.

Noel Duncan

Social leaches: This is a nice article about barbecue and its history in the Southwest. Compared to a similar story this month in Texas Monthly, yours is deeper and holds the reader with more information. Even your social concerns come out fine -- they leach marginally into the surrounding story!

Now we shall try out some of the trailers along the roads and gorge on brisket and the like.

Peter Maitland

Meat-head: How disgusted I was to find Robb Walsh's bloated culinary opinions expanded to a full-length feature. His penchant for gnawing on carcasses is offensive enough to read every week on a single page, but a front-page article dedicated solely to this bloody pastime? Come on, surely there is more interesting news and something with more mass appeal.

Despite the Texas-equals-meat myth, not all of us find the idea of meat "slow-smoked to stringy mush" appealing. In fact, I gave up on his reviews long ago, after realizing he would not review a single vegetarian item at a restaurant.

Keep Robb Walsh and his meat-is-the-only-real-food bias limited to the cuisine page.

Emily Sloan

Can't compare: Your article was very interesting and amusing. As a fortyish black woman from the Third Ward, I chuckled at the fact that white folks' barbecue was supposed to be the best.

Growing up in our neighborhood, I did not even know that white folks barbecued at all. In fact, the first time I had their barbecue I was very disappointed.

You are right that your barbecue is perfectly cut and not cooked well done. The standards are so different that it is impossible and unfair to compare them. The sauces are different and so is the seasoning of the meat. It's like comparing apples to bread -- both are foods, but different species.

Thanks for the story. I hope that the white population will take a look at it and recognize the differences. If not, we will not be that disappointed.

Peace and blessings.

Sister Mama Sonya

Good ol' days: Great article. Wish you had lived here when Dowling, Scott and Almeda streets were bristling with black joints. Greens, Bill Williams and of course West Gray have to be considered. But all in all, you're right on.

Marvin Rubenstein

Poor boys? My dad would tell you that poor people -- not white or black people -- hold the copyrights on barbecue.

The story goes that in the late 1880s, the morning after the big cookout hosted by wealthy landowners and early Enron types, poor people were hired to clean up the mess. For their effort, poor folks were given leftover beef and pork from the big cookout.

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