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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Another Food Blog Begins, Roll Tide

Editor's note: Barbecued Adventures will be relaunched in early 2014 with new posts about barbecue, pitmasters and related travel. This post dates back to Jan. 5, 2011. Thank you for reading and please come back often.

For many of us Yankees, it’s hard to believe that barbecue existed before authors like Steven Raichlen, Chris Schlesinger and John Willoughby started the current wave toward making barbecue a national obsession. And before the Food Network and the Travel Channel.

But in reality, many good people had sought the proper alchemy between wood, fire, smoke and their choice of meat for centuries.

For me, a nearly lifelong resident of Indiana, it took a leap of faith to discover a cuisine that consumes me – my first job in journalism at the Birmingham News in 1985. My good friend and Louisville native Joe Kiefer encouraged me to follow him there, where a deeply ingrained and historic way of life still led to fascinating news copy.

It also led me to Dreamland, Jim n’ Nick’s Bar-B-Q, Golden Rule and the Hickory Pit. There also was that great little pulled pork place in Clanton, Ala., where a policeman shot himself (he was wearing his bullet-proof vest) to gain sympathy after his wife embezzled more than a $100,000 from the city – that was my first breaking news story.

Every time there’s a home University of Alabama football game on ESPN, the announcers have to remind me how privileged they were to venture out to the sticks for some good ribs and beer at Dreamland.

A favorite moment from my two years in ‘Bama was when friends drove through a rare snowstorm to bring numerous racks of Dreamland ribs (pork ones of course) from Tuscaloosa to Birmingham (an hour’s drive each way) so we could consume them at halftime of a televised game with the University of Kentucky.

Unfortunately, a managing editor with Machiavellian tendencies contributed to my abrupt and hasty departure from the Magic City. (In a delicious twist of fate, he later went from being the No. 2 person in the newsroom to heading the paper’s advertising “Flyer Program”).

But I’ve never lost that love for pulled pork, smoked quail, barbecued chicken, ribs and every sauce imaginable. I’ve added to it a craving for beef brisket, sausages with natural casings, smoked catfish and mutton. As a Greek, I’d like to think that roast lamb belongs in this list as well.

A recent road trip through Illinois, Missouri, Tennessee, Arkansas and Texas sparked my decision to begin this blog. My wife Donna’s idea to do a barbecue version of “Julie and Julia” didn’t seem practical and my family doctor would not have approved. But I will bring you along, starting with our latest journey.

Don’t read this on an empty stomach.

1 comment:

  1. Dreamland - "Ain't nothin' like 'em nowhere!"