|Snow's BBQ pit boss Tootsie Tomanetz tends the pits as the sun rises over Lexington. (Photo ©Chris Wilkins/Texas BBQ Posse)|
By Bruce Tomaso/Texas BBQ Posse
Gary Jacobson is a friend of mine. He’s a gifted writer, an extraordinary journalist with a sharp wit and a sharper mind.
And he knows his barbecue. He’s been riding with the Posse longer than just about any of us.
So it pains me to say this:
On the subject of gas-fired smokers, Gary Jacobson is full of gas.
A few days ago, he wrote on this blog that “perhaps we have mellowed a bit” on the question of whether meat cooked with gas is worthy of consideration alongside true, wood-smoked Texas barbecue.
“We're just not as militant about using wood as we once were,” he said.
I still haven’t figured out how to leave a comment on this damned blog, even though I’ve been contributing to it, off and on, for a couple of years now.
If I had, Gary and his pro-propane pals would have read this comment from me:
“Speak for yourself, homes.”
I like my gas fireplace at home, because I don’t have to clean out ashes and I can turn it off when I leave.
I like my barbecue cooked with wood, because that’s the way you do it.
Gary’s flawed conclusion was based on Posse visits to a couple of joints that cook with gas and turn out good food. (He actually wrote “damn good” food, a difference that may not be worth quibbling over, even though he’s wrong. It was good.)
Here’s what I say: Scroll back to the top of this page and see what’s written there, plain as a hickory log. The mission of the Texas BBQ Posse, its very raison d’ être, is to travel the state “in search of the greatest smoked meats.”
It says nothing about “good.”
Is it possible to turn out decent barbecue using the same fuel that powers forklifts, Zambonis, and hot air balloons?
I guess it is.
Is it possible to turn out world-class barbecue on a gasser? Divinely inspired barbecue? Smoky, flavorful, perfectly crafted barbecue? The kind that conjures up daily lines at the doors of Franklin, La Barbecue, Pecan Lodge and Hutchins? The kind that devotees gladly drive hundreds of miles to enjoy at Snow’s in Lexington, or Louie Mueller in Taylor, or Miller’s Smokehouse in Belton?
If so, I’ve yet to find it. Until I do, I remain as militant as ever.
In the meantime, I’ll regard my friend Gary’s lapse in judgment as evidence that sometimes even brilliant people can be spectacularly wrong. (Want more evidence? Check out this video.)