Bubba Roese, the Mayor of Graball, Speaks of BBQ

“Barbecue isn’t supposed to taste like smoke,” Bubba Roese said adamantly. I thought he was just a cantankerous old crank at first. But as he ranted, I began to realize the 69-year-old Santa Claus look-alike was actually a relic of an older barbecue era.

His family once owned a grocery in Graball called Roese’s Store that sold groceries and barbecue -- back before Graball became a ghost town. Now Bubba can be found most days holding court at the 105 Grocery & Deli in Washington, where he is referred to as “the Mayor of Graball.”

“Old time Texas barbecue was cooked on an open pit, and that’s the way we still do it,” Bubba told me. He was right, of course. Walter Jetton, the barbecue impresario who catered Lyndon Johnson’s barbecues at the LBJ Ranch, said the same thing. The idea of enclosing the pit to capture the smoke was crazy in Jetton’s opinion. In the days when the meat was cooked over a hole in the ground or a cinder block pit, the smoke just blew away.

The Washington chapter of the Sons of Herman is the “we” Bubba was referring to. Bubba and the barbecue committee still cook barbecue the old-fashioned way twice a year on a cinder block open pit that was built for the Washington Sons of Hermann Hall in the 1940s.

The fall barbecue event is held every year on the third Sunday of October and features beef and pork. (At the spring event, they only cook chicken.)

See you there:

Open Pit Barbecue Sunday, October 19 Sons of Hermann, Washington Hall 9499 FM 1370, Washington For info, call Don Roese at 936-878-2269

-- Robb Walsh

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