Most people become experts in barbecue by either cooking or research. But it seems you became an expert by approaching the subject differently: by simply eating barbecue.
That’s true. Three years ago, I started eating at every barbecue place in Memphis, the more obscure, the better. That’s how my blog Memphis Que got started.
So did you really eat barbecue for lunch every day for two-and-a-half years?
Yes, and I still pretty much do: barbecue and soul food places. I think I made about 200 posts, but that included soul food restaurants and a few repeat visits to barbecue joints.
But you are so thin and healthy looking. You are really busting up the stereotypes.
Well, I only drink water, and I don’t eat the bread. What I always get here at Leonard’s are dry ribs, beans, and slaw. I call it dirty South Paleo.
In your book, you write that Leonard’s Pit Barbecue was the first restaurant in Memphis to marry slaw with a barbecue sandwich. How did that come about?
That’s right. The restaurant was low on meat one day, and they were trying to stretch what they had, so they put slaw on the sandwich, and it took off. Now in Memphis, it is standard for how sandwiches are served. At most places you now have to ask to leave the slaw off.
What are your favorite barbecue places outside of Memphis? Where do you like to go when you are on the road?
One of the things that surprised me most when I started doing the blog was how many great barbecue places there are in Jackson, Tennessee. There’s Latham’s Meat Co., Brooksie’s Barn, Back Yard Bar-be-cue. And then there is Helen’s BBQ in Brownsville. Helen Turner makes a great barbecue sandwich. She does a mix of chopped and pulled.