I am inspired by an old essay written by Leslie Scott, co-owner of the legendary Ubon Barbecue in Yazoo City, Mississippi titled “This I Believe.”
Steve Jobs shadowing Picasso said “Good artists copy but great artists steal. And we have always been shameless about stealing good ideas”. Here’s my version.
This I Believe.
I believe in America and her unwavering commitment to liberty, freedom and the human spirit. Barbecue is America’s single native culinary creation and is the nation’s finest food.
I believe whole hog is the best barbecue. It is neither the most difficult barbecue to cook nor necessarily the most fullest flavored. It is the best barbecue because of that it represents. Unlike other cuts, it is neither thrift nor utility which gave birth to it. It represents celebration, thanksgiving and rest from toils with those most important to you. Whole hog barbecue came not from the kitchens of kings but from pits dug in the ground by slaves. Men and women who lived lives of unimaginable suffering who yet could still smile to one another as they shoveled wood embers below their next day feast.
I believe in old fashion cookery. The use of wood as the source for heat and flavor. It is not that gas and electric can not produce good tasting food. In fact cooking with gas or electric produces very consistent food. What they can not produce is romance. This is fine for burgers or pork chops, but it will never invoke the primal passion of hardwood fueled flame.
I believe in feasting. A perfectly decorated plate does not scream out family and friends. It’s a fantasy of perfection rather than the glorious imperfection of real life. Feasting comes from whole joints of meats. We tear into the same flesh and dine together on the same beast, at that moment we are family.
I believe in generosity. You can not have great barbecue without generosity. Generosity is not an action, it is a product. Generosity comes not simply from portion size but the effort, time, and passion in creating the dish. Those who are committing themselves over to the old school processes are selling generosity everyone else is simply selling smoked meat.
I believe in capitalism. I believe in the value of our nation’s ancestral barbecues. I believe that the future generations will do too and will pay for it. This will require the creativity and aggressive marketing that only capitalism can provide. Historians will not save our heritage. Our heritage will be saved by the almighty dollar because it is a worthy product and others will value it too.