The BBQ Posse Is not Impressed with Daniel Vaughn's New Book

Categories: Complaint Desk

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Have you read Daniel Vaughn's book, The Prophets of Smoked Meat? You probably have not. The first book released on Anthony Bourdain's Ecco imprint won't be available until May 14. Flimsy, black-and-white, pre-release copies known as galleys of the book went out to various media outlets in March, and reviews have slowly been trickling in.

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The Prophets of Smoked Meat is Just a Few Months Away

For the most part, coverage of Vaughn's debut has been the positive sort of cheerleading that marks much pre-release coverage. Posts like the one published here on City of Ate gave potential readers a little taste of what to expect should they pick up a copy of the book but didn't delve in deep or offer any hard-hitting commentary.

Yesterday, though, a group blog called the Texas BBQ Posse published a more detailed piece on Vaughn's book, including some harsh criticism. "This book about food is most unappetizing," writes Gary Jacobson in the review he claims was painful for him to write. If it truly was painful, perhaps he should have been a little bit nicer about it.

Jacobson describes page after page of negative barbecue commentary that left the bitter taste of creosote in his mouth. He expected The Prophets of Smoked Meat "to be a celebration of great Texas barbecue because there is plenty to cheer, including an ongoing BBQ renaissance in both Austin and Dallas." Instead he describes a book so riddled with negativity he can barely stomach it.

The review is a second post from the Posse about Vaughn's book in as many weeks. The first, also penned by Jacobson, divulges Vaughn's list of the five best barbecue joints in Texas. While Vaughn might have considered embargoing the chapter before releasing the book to the press, the move seems a little underhanded -- tantamount to disclosing the end of a mystery novel before a book even hits shelves. (And without a spoiler alert!) In tandem, the two posts read like they're penned by a writer who's sore he didn't get a book deal of his own.

Jacobson's review highlights something I've heard Vaughn say quite politely, but I'll confidently say with more candor -- most of the barbecue available in Texas actually sucks. The majority of barbecue joints use low-quality meat, cook with gas instead of wood, are largely inconsistent, and the sides ... oh, the sides. The barbecue legends you read about -- Pecan Lodge, Louie Mueller, Snow's and more -- represent a very small percentage of the pits that turn out brisket jerky across the state.

So it would seem to me that Vaughn's book, which covers 10,000 masochistic miles of driving, would most likely be filled with a few shoe-leather zingers when describing the tough, dry brisket widely available in Texas. Vaughn could have spent hundreds of pages stroking pit-masters everywhere and weaving romantic tales about smoke-kissed beef along quiet country roads in the towns that are slowly collapsing outside of urban centers.

It would have been nice to read. But it wouldn't have been factual. He could have focused only on the best of the best, and written a sunny and masturbatory romance about the wonders of Texas barbecue, but that doesn't exactly sound like an Anthony Bourdain book, either.

Instead Vaughn decided to describe something more in line with what most of us would encounter if we were insane enough to spend more than three oil changes worth of driving, stuffing our guts with smoked meat. There's honesty in that sort of coverage that some will find appealing and others will obviously find as bitter as black smoke.


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26 comments
primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

Very few are excellent at what they do. It's a bell curve thing.

Mervis_Earl
Mervis_Earl

Some wise old Texan said that alot of people can smoke brisket et al very well but it is a very few who can get it on the plate in a timely, edible fashion. Too me that is the art.

Shamelessbrewer
Shamelessbrewer

For all we know, the writer went to these places wearing a Yankees cap and and an 'I heart NY' shirt, which entitled him to bad pieces of Q that were destined for the dumpster.

cyncialoldbastard
cyncialoldbastard

There is a reason that places like Franklin, Snow's, Black's, Taylor Cafe, Pecan Lodge get so many out-of-this-world reviews.  They cook great BBQ.  Most places don't.  If you eaten at some or all of these places you should understand.

 Daniel's "dream" was to visit every BBQ joint in Texas.  He's well on his way.  And he's consumed a lot of shitty BBQ.  I certainly don't agree with all of his reviews.  But, like everything else in life, if you don't like what Daniel writes don't read what he writes or what people write about him.

tb00
tb00

I, too, think Daniel Vaughn is overly negative. In his writing, he comes across as a high priest of BBQ, whose judgments are far more acute than those of us mere mortals. (And he's aided and abetted by local food writers who worship at his altar.) All food criticism necessarily has some of that quality, but I think it's a lot more noticeable in his work.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

Damn, I cant tell if this "roadrunner" cat commenting on bbq blogs about Macs is trolling gabe now or is actually gabe

JohnNeelyBryan
JohnNeelyBryan

Half of every profession is by definiton below average. Conversely only a select few are the top of their field. There are no exceptions for pit-masters and food writers.

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

Why would anyone read this (no offense Danny) when you can read The BBQ Bible, the definitive authority on all things Q? I mean his blog is good, but nothing fantastic.

JamesTeasley
JamesTeasley

If this were his blog or even Texas Monthly I can see the hard hitting zingers tossed at Texas barbecue honky tonks across the state. But this is a book, and one I would expect to use as a bible for the best barbecue in Texas. Instead I have page after page of acid searing nonsense that I simply cannot use. If the man was trying to show us his chops it would have been better if they were pork chops. I do not see a second book in his future, and sad he had to give up his day job.

jonfromtjs
jonfromtjs

I will put Snow's up with anything i've ever had.  Great to see Pecan Lodge getting statewide recognition.

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

@primi_timpano 

top commenter..........wow!  PRIMO!  My man PT always makes great sense, and is a joy to read......."he be", educational. But really, you are one of the rare commenters (Kerg's not included) that actually bring knowledge to every post-salute' sir. 


ps-Then me, Merkin and MMK try to tear the whole thing down. 

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

@Mervis_Earl 

Mervie, the art is in the execution.....ask our penal (he he!) system! timing is everything; and of course-the Ace in The Hole always comes in handy when you are BOTTOMED OUT sir. 

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

@ScottsMerkin Speaking of cats, I think mine are trying to gaslight me.  If I find out who the ringleader is there'll be trouble.  They have a code of silence so this is a challenge.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@JamesTeasley is somebody jealous, because you are coming across and sour puss baby bc the book isnt what YOU want it to be.  He wrote the mother fucker, he can write about whatever the fuck he wants.  

rborkows
rborkows

@JamesTeasley That sound you heard? That's the narrative zooming right past you. Nowhere in "A Journey Through Texas Barbecue" is it implied that you're getting a best of list. Plenty of authors have done enough damage to the public perception of BBQ already by ranking it and listing it into saucy mediocracy, we don't need any more of that.

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

Thx, Kergs. I'd like to thank the 'rents, my third grade teacher, and the semiconductor industry for making this moment possible. Can't wait to get those little DO plaques I see in the finer restaurants in town. A reservation and gift certificate for 4 to Lucia would be nice.

And thx for the Panhandle driving memories; they put me over the top.

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz

dang, I need to take a lunch break to be TOP COMMENTER (echoing through the canyon); no offense, but methinks MMK is sittin' around all day waiting to pounce (you like that MMK?)........sad kergie.

JamesTeasley
JamesTeasley

I noticed that the author is claiming "jealousy" for anyone who happens to talk smack about this tome. And for the record, I work for a certain Tarrant County newspaper, but I am not a writer.

I think once you thumb through the book you will be as dissapointed as I was. But if this type of beating is your form of entertainment, then read on. I also have a red ball gag for your personal use.

No need to keep the flaming going, boys. I am outa here.

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

This live wildfire software still sucks.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@JamesTeasley one more thing, so its cool for you to criticize something written, but we cant criticize you?  You just think its flaming and run.  What a twit, you work means even less now

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@JamesTeasley Oh so you work for the Fort Worth weekly. thanks for the ball gag, Ill gladly use it on my sidepiece next time.  

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