Skip

Ain't That Texas Cookin': The Pitmaster's Wisdom
December 31, 2013 7:14 AM   Subscribe

"Kreuz Market is the most famous name in the most famous barbecue city in Texas. Founded in 1900, it has for decades been an exemplar of the classic German meat-market style of Texas barbecue and one of the first places mentioned in any list of the state’s best joints. Since 1987, its legendary pits have been watched over by Roy Perez, a Lockhart native who has become perhaps the most recognizable face in Texas barbecue." An interview with pitmaster Roy Perez.
DV: When’s the last time you ate a big plate of barbecue?

RP: Last week, at home for supper. My wife was sick and I said, “Well, I guess I’ll fix some barbecue. Alright!” It’s weird because here, you sit here and you eat it but you don’t smell it. And you take it home, and you get all the aroma and everything. It’s all over the air here, so it doesn’t really stand out. But at the house, as soon as I open it, I’m like, “This is what people smell.” It’s weird. Here, you’re eating that brisket and I don’t smell nothing. At the house, as soon as I open that paper, it’s like, “Oh man, this is a good smell.”
An abbreviated version of this interview has been posted at the site of Texas Monthly. (Via.)

Texas cooking: Long may it live.
posted by MonkeyToes (92 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
Title refers to the Guy Clark tune, I believe.

Get them steaks chicken fried!
posted by radicalawyer at 7:22 AM on December 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


It says volumes about the tradition of Texas Barbeque that when they moved to a new building, they dragged the coals from the original fire to the new building by hand, rather than start a new fire in the pit.

That's some awesome cooking, right there.
posted by Mooski at 7:26 AM on December 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


I once asked my husband, who is from North Carolina, "What's brisket?" and he told me "Brisket is something invented by shifty Midwesterners who will tell you something's barbeque even though it's never been on a pig." He seemed irate about it.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 7:36 AM on December 31, 2013 [19 favorites]


If you want to make Texas-style brisket at home, a really good recipe is Jim Goode's Rub and Mop. That, smoke, and time and you'll have a brisket to be proud of.
posted by Runes at 7:41 AM on December 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Your husband is right - I was born in Fayetteville, and I don't consider brisket to be barbecue.

Sublime, yes. Barbecue, no.
posted by Mooski at 7:43 AM on December 31, 2013


It's interesting that Perez eats sometimes at Chisolm Trail because they have chopped beef. Out of the four barbecue joints in Lockhart, Chisolm Trail is the least-well-known, and I believe not nearly as good as the other three.
posted by grouse at 7:49 AM on December 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Lockhart is about 30 minutes from my front door and I haven't made it down to Kreuz or Chisholm Trail (I've eaten at both Smitty's and Black's). Gonna have to change that in the new year.
posted by immlass at 7:55 AM on December 31, 2013


Man, 7 comments and 2 of them are Carolinians insisting that their barbeque is a normal thing that people like to eat.
posted by Ham Snadwich at 8:01 AM on December 31, 2013 [20 favorites]


We were in Austin in November for the F1 race and decided to make a side trip to Lockhart for BBQ (we chose Black's instead of Kreuz ... mostly because we missed the exit for Kreuz (crazy Texas Toll Road Signage!)).

How in the world does Lockhart support FOUR world famous Texas BBQ joints? That old brick town was mostly broken window storefronts and a lonely beautiful county courthouse. I didn't notice much in the way of local vibrancy. Except on the sidewalk out front of Black's.
posted by notyou at 8:07 AM on December 31, 2013


Barbecue is pork. It is also beef. It can be chicken, too. If it's cooked low and slow and there's smoke involved, I'll eat it.

I had amazing brisket a couple months ago, cooked right here in San Francisco (by a Texan, of course). His secret rub, he said, was salt and pepper.
posted by rtha at 8:07 AM on December 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


I once asked my husband, who is from North Carolina, "What's brisket?" and he told me "Brisket is something invented by shifty Midwesterners who will tell you something's barbeque even though it's never been on a pig." He seemed irate about it.

One of the more puzzling things about the Texas mind is that it seems to think that barbecue has something to do with beef. This is, as all sensible people agree, deranged. However, in the interests of international friendship, I will allow that grilling is a big tent, and everyone should be able to fit inside. Even after eating all that brisket.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:11 AM on December 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


Grilling is not barbecue, you heretic! Or heathen. I always get those mixed up.
posted by rtha at 8:16 AM on December 31, 2013 [4 favorites]


Barbecue is one of the few things that Texas, wholly unapologetically, gets right.

North Carolina can't even agree amongst themselves as to what proper barbecue IS. (Lexington style >>> Eastern style.)
posted by delfin at 8:19 AM on December 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


I grew up in North Texas, now live in Fayetteville, NC. I am a peaceful man by nature, and by instinct inclined to welcome all flavors of human expression. But Popeil help me if one more of these Carolineans serves me a plate of mushy vinegar-soaked pigfiber while simultaneously deriding brisket! Ye gods, the incalculable wrongness of it all engorges my spleen!

Also, the local diner here puts brown gravy on the country fried steak! Brown! Country!
posted by reverend cuttle at 8:24 AM on December 31, 2013 [14 favorites]


Texans do not insist that barbeque is beef. Almost every BBQ place in texas also has pork. It just doesn't ONLY have pork. A good fatty brisket is sublime. I'm about 48 miles from Lockhart by bicycle and a few times a year I bike down there and back, stopping mid way to stuff my face.

Other times, I just drive there.
posted by RustyBrooks at 8:26 AM on December 31, 2013


I have a theory that barbeque was invented to obscure the taste of rotting meat
posted by thelonius at 8:27 AM on December 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


North Carolina can't even agree amongst themselves as to what proper barbecue IS. (Lexington style >>> Eastern style.)

I'm an ecumenicist. I will enjoy both types of barbecue (eastern NC and western NC). They're different, but not terribly so (please do not tell anyone currently living in the state that I said that). Honestly, I mostly prefer Eastern barbecue, but Western slaw. Either way you get moist meat (pork, nature's perfect animal) with a minimum of sauce and nice vinegar flavor.

All types of barbecue which require you to slather the meat in some sort of gooey sauce are clearly inferior to barbecue prepared by people who actually know how to cook meat so that it's good without sauce. My understanding is that this is true of some Texas barbecue, but not all. I've never been much inclined to verify this, though; when you're born into the true faith, why bother going anywhere else?
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:28 AM on December 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


Texas grilled-and-smoked brisket is really very good. But calling it barbecue is like calling a watermelon a potato. It is, at the very most, barbecue-style beef.

(Lexington style >>> Eastern style.)

Heretic. Lexington style is also fine, and is mos def barbecue. But once you start adding tomato to your sauce there's a slippery slope leading to the nightmare world of supermarket-style "barbecue sauce" straight from the bowels of Hell.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:29 AM on December 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


Barbecue is pork. It is also beef. It can be chicken, too.

You forgot turkey and cabrito.

Kreuz Market serves their meat without sauce. Or forks.

Most barbecue places in Texas serve sauce if you want it, but barbecue competitions are judged without sauce.
posted by grouse at 8:30 AM on December 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm convinced that Carolina barbecue happened when someone set out to make proper barbeque sauce and didn't have the right ingredients.
posted by Ham Snadwich at 8:31 AM on December 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


Quality barbecue needs no sauce, and this has been true from all eternity, in all states, and of all livestock.
posted by reverend cuttle at 8:31 AM on December 31, 2013 [5 favorites]


Most barbecue places in Texas serve sauce if you want it

I grew up with East Texas style (sauced) and Central Texas brisket has been a revelation. Nom.
posted by immlass at 8:33 AM on December 31, 2013


I've heard the argument that barbecue is the American cuisine. It is instantly recognizable, has significant regional variations, and, although there are elements which can be passionately debated, no aficionado will turn down a plate of what you are offering because of the style.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:35 AM on December 31, 2013


True story: I'm across the country having lunch with friends at a pretty decent BBQ place. Our table as stocked with several sauces to choose from. After we get our food and eat for a bit everybody starts comparing notes, like "Which sauce did you pick? How is it?" They get to me and I admit "I didn't use any."

Shock. Horror. Silence. Finally, one person says it.

"You must be from Texas."
posted by LastOfHisKind at 8:35 AM on December 31, 2013 [7 favorites]


I find it interesting how actually passionate I get about things I associate with the "home" state I haven't lived in for over a decade. I'm a fairly laid back guy, but I'm a half step away from actually shaking my fists at the screen screaming "HOW CAN YOU SAY THAT ABOUT MY BARBECUE?" The only thing I find likely to elicit a similar reaction is the other North Carolina religion, basketball.

In the interests of making peace, though, I assume we can reach a general agreement that people who use "barbecue" to mean hot dogs and hamburgers should be sent to reeducation camps?
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:35 AM on December 31, 2013 [7 favorites]


Dry rub brisket is infinitely superior to wet brisket. Sauce can be fine as a post serving addition but shouldn't be a requirement. A massive smoke ring is always preferred.

Pulled pork is definitely decent even though I'm Texan born and bred but to me it's a fancy way of making a nice pork sandwich.

At the risk of bringing in some KC style enthuisasts I will say that Burnt Ends is a pretty decent way of maximizing smoky flavor in brisket servings.
posted by vuron at 8:36 AM on December 31, 2013


The only thing I find likely to elicit a similar reaction is the other North Carolina religion, basketball.

I thought that had been settled long ago. NC State hates Carolina. Carolina hates NC State. God and all good people hate Duke.
posted by delfin at 8:39 AM on December 31, 2013 [10 favorites]


I've heard the argument that barbecue is the American cuisine. It is instantly recognizable, has significant regional variations, and, although there are elements which can be passionately debated, no aficionado will turn down a plate of what you are offering because of the style.

I'd agree except that the regional variation pretty much stops once you hit yankeeland, where pretty much anything goes.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:41 AM on December 31, 2013


I will die before I ever renounce the idea that Eastern Carolina pork barbecue is the one-and-only true barbecue. That said, there's no such thing as bad barbecue (as long as it isn't sickly sweet) no matter where it's from. Good jerk gives 'em all a run, too.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 8:46 AM on December 31, 2013


I think we can also safely assume that anyone that boils pork or brisket prior to smoking or grilling is also a heretic. Slow smoked is the only alternative. Braising meat is acceptable if you admit it's not Barbecue, boiling is not acceptable.
posted by vuron at 8:48 AM on December 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm a half step away from actually shaking my fists at the screen screaming "HOW CAN YOU SAY THAT ABOUT MY BARBECUE?"

No "discussion" about barbecue is complete without someone shaking their fists or getting red in the face and then we all have a plate of what we call barbecue and a beer and we're back to I LOVE YOU MAN and can you pass me some sweet tea and hush puppies and WHAT THE FUCK DALLAS WHERE'S THE SWEET TEA AND HUSH PUPPIES and then the fisticuffs.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:50 AM on December 31, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think we can also safely assume that anyone that boils pork or brisket prior to smoking or grilling is also a heretic.

You're making this up, right? Like this is something that happens in some dystopian sci-fi novel where an evil government is conspiring against barbecue or something, right?
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:50 AM on December 31, 2013 [7 favorites]


man, it's lunchtime here in NC. I'm headed out to find something smoked.
posted by reverend cuttle at 8:51 AM on December 31, 2013


I'd agree except that the regional variation pretty much stops once you hit yankeeland, where pretty much anything goes.

Barbecue, like Tex-Mex, pretty much doesn't exist in New England, as far as I can see. They have things they call Tex-Mex and barbecue, but they are strange, foreign things unrelated to the names they carry. For one thing, the barbecue here is dry as dust, which they try to disguise with sauce, the way they try to disguise the eldritch wrongness of their Tex-Mex with layers and layers of cheese....
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:55 AM on December 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


Where I was born, "barbecue" referred to sloppy joes. No, I am not kidding. So when we moved to Texas and someone invited us out for some barbecue we were like "What? No. God, no."
posted by RustyBrooks at 8:56 AM on December 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's a bit of a shame to put such delicious cuisines to war over semantics. I grew up for a little while in or near each of the barbecue styles, and there is not a one I would turn down. I think that's true of most partisans, though; they agree it's all yummy good when done right, but bicker over terminology. As a staunch progressive, I have to very slightly side with Texas as being the most inclusive in its language.

Incidentally, my earliest growing-up took place in southern California, where a grill is called a "barbecue" and, thus, "having a barbecue" meant grilling out. When we moved to western Kentucky, we learned pretty quickly that you don't invite the new neighbors over for "a barbecue". When the unexpected glut of guests realizes that no actual barbecue will be served, well... it initially strained some new friendships.
posted by gilrain at 8:57 AM on December 31, 2013


Where I was born, "barbecue" referred to sloppy joes.

North Korea?
posted by reverend cuttle at 8:57 AM on December 31, 2013 [10 favorites]


No unfortunately bad bbq has become a thing that many restaurants are willing to dish out and parboiling ribs then throwing them on a grill and slathering them with a sweet sauce has become commonplace in some locations. They even have the temerity to pass it off as BBQ.
posted by vuron at 8:57 AM on December 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


Barbecue, like Tex-Mex, pretty much doesn't exist in New England, as far as I can see.

I grew up in North Carolina, and married someone from Rhode Island. I don't order Italian food in North Carolina, and I don't order barbecue in Rhode Island. There are some things that just aren't meant to be.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 8:59 AM on December 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


SO not like I am the self appointed arbiter of regional BBQ styles, BUT, in the last year I've been to both N. Carolina and Texas and as a Canadian, ignorant enough to be arbitrary and not having any reason to favour one over the other I can say without hesitation that Central Texas beef is exponentially better than Carolina pork. Easy. No contest.

We visited Kruetz and it was one of the best food experiences of my life. Everything I thought was wrong. Smoke ring? Only amateurs obsess about them. Seasoning? Salt and pepper. Smoke? Present, but not overpowering, way milder and less than you'd consider optimal.

Meat was tender and succulent. Great BBQ is a textural affair as much as a taste. Meat was salted to the point where it was on the road to curing. It was great.

And the dining area had the thing I like best about really old school joints, a community of people. Every age, race and income bracket was represented. The soccer team of tweenage girls post game meal was at a long table next to some ancient black ladies coming home from church. It was so awesome.
posted by Keith Talent at 8:59 AM on December 31, 2013 [9 favorites]


I have a theory that barbeque was invented to obscure the taste of rotting meat

If you go back far enough that is the reason for pretty much all flavorings everywhere. Except, ironically, "smoked" flavor, which is about delaying the onset of rot.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:00 AM on December 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


North Korea?

Actually, bulgogi is delicious, I just assumed you were born into some sort of ethically-barren social experiment.
posted by reverend cuttle at 9:00 AM on December 31, 2013 [4 favorites]


Eastern Carolina barbecue is... well, it's kind of like when your six-year-old comes home from Art class in school and says I MADE THESE FOR YOU! and hands you a stick-figure family portrait and a sort-of-round sort-of-oval clay ashtray. And you smile and hug them, because while it's clearly Not Right you can see where they were going with it and they got SOME of the form and SOME of the function correct, and you pat them on the head and hang the portrait on the fridge and maybe use the ashtray once in a while when they're looking.
posted by delfin at 9:03 AM on December 31, 2013 [4 favorites]


Oh hey look the rage tremors are back.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:05 AM on December 31, 2013 [7 favorites]


This post could just have consisted of the word "barbecue" and the thread would have developed in about the same way, I assume. Too bad, because the interview is good.
posted by kenko at 9:06 AM on December 31, 2013 [8 favorites]


American bbq is funny.
posted by pompomtom at 9:06 AM on December 31, 2013


Oh, and I forgot to add, that as awesome as Kreutz is, Smitty's Market also in Lockhart is even better.
posted by Keith Talent at 9:07 AM on December 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


How in the world does Lockhart support FOUR world famous Texas BBQ joints?
That's a pretty common Texas Town Thing! Pretty much everywhere in the state is Camden, NJ (burnt and bottomed out industrial/agricultural towns that were never meant to support actual human life), but with stand out excellent steak-and-BBQ-houses and Mexican restaurants on every corner.
posted by byanyothername at 9:08 AM on December 31, 2013


Back when my family were Austinites Black's was always the preferred Lockhart BBQ location I think primarily due to my father's preference for their sausage in comparison to the others. No longer living in Austin I haven't gone down to Franklin in order to see if they are the mystical best but I'm not sure they are worth the ridiculous line that some have indicated.
posted by vuron at 9:12 AM on December 31, 2013


Perez sounds like a fascinating guy, and TFA is not really about barbeque at all. The bit about his parents is absolutely heartbreaking. And for some reason, I find it really endearing how he keeps calling the interviewer "sir."
posted by jbickers at 9:18 AM on December 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Your favorite [SMOKE ADJACENT ANIMAL FLESH] sucks.
posted by fontophilic at 9:19 AM on December 31, 2013


I think Texas barbecue brisket and NC vinegary pork are both great.



If you can't make it to Kansas City.
posted by escabeche at 9:20 AM on December 31, 2013


Oh, and I forgot to add, that as awesome as Kreutz is, Smitty's Market also in Lockhart is even better.

About 15 years ago, there was a family split. Kreuz used to be at the Smitty's location. The agreement was that one side of the family kept the old location & the other side of the family moved, but kept the name. I prefer Smitty's solely for the ambiance, but I love Black's as well.

No discussion of central Tx. BBQ is completely though, without mentioning City Market, just a jop, hip & a scump down the road in Luling. I wish that Swann's in Hempstead had survived because it ruled them all.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:20 AM on December 31, 2013


Man, I've been vegetarian almost 22 years, over half my life, and nothing makes me second guess myself more than these semi-regular go arounds about which is the right style. I wish I had tried them all.
posted by nevercalm at 9:21 AM on December 31, 2013


I think primarily due to my father's preference for their sausage in comparison to the others.

Yep, if you want to split hairs, Blacks for sausage & Smitty's for brisket.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:26 AM on December 31, 2013


Gotta go with Black's, because for some reason we generally only had time to make the drive to Lockhart on Sundays when Kreuz was closed. But they're all really good. Oh and by the way, a lot of these places mail order! Black's. Kreuz Market. Someone, probably one of my Texas based relatives (I'm transplanted in California) put me on the mailing list for the New Braunfel's Smokehouse. That catalog is evil. One of these days we're having fedex'd smoked turkey and brisket for Thanksgiving....
posted by Big_B at 9:26 AM on December 31, 2013


If you go back far enough that is the reason for pretty much all flavorings everywhere

not true, people flavor foods because they like the way it tastes, and always have.

as you said, people smoke foods to preserve them, but that's not the same as barbecue. the process of curing and then smoking foods for preservation requires much cooler smoke and a much longer period of smoke exposure than is used for barbecue. barbecue is only a cooking method not a preservation method
posted by Dr. Twist at 9:43 AM on December 31, 2013


No longer living in Austin I haven't gone down to Franklin in order to see if they are the mystical best but I'm not sure they are worth the ridiculous line that some have indicated.

Franklin's is good, but given the wait going to Snow's in Lexington is a better use of your time (not to mention being better, IMO). Then again I prefer both Kreuz and Smitty's to Franklin's.
posted by asterix at 9:47 AM on December 31, 2013


Perez sounds like a fascinating guy

Jiro dreams of sushi, and Roy Perez dreams of barbecue. I found this a thoughtful and plainspoken look at what it is about the work that matters so much to one person.
posted by MonkeyToes at 9:54 AM on December 31, 2013 [4 favorites]


How in the world does Lockhart support FOUR world famous Texas BBQ joints? That old brick town was mostly broken window storefronts and a lonely beautiful county courthouse.

Sharp-eyed viewers might recognize some of those same buildings in Waiting for Guffman.
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:54 AM on December 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


North Korea?

Western Iowa. You be the judge.
posted by RustyBrooks at 10:10 AM on December 31, 2013


We're talking about Central Texas barbecue and there's not a mention of Louie Mueller in Taylor? You know, of the smoke-stained walls, slippery-smooth brisket (I'll have mine moist, thanks) rubbed with nine-to-one coarse pepper and salt only; real deal hot links; all with a heaping side of dynastic drama? Have we somehow entered the darkest timeline?
posted by peachfuzz at 10:13 AM on December 31, 2013 [2 favorites]


All you narrow-minded folks who refuse to believe barbecue can be beef would be horrified to find out what they put on the pit in Kentucky.

Those who ain't from around here might find this explanation helpful. (via)
posted by TedW at 10:34 AM on December 31, 2013


is this thread about that McRib thing
posted by elizardbits at 10:35 AM on December 31, 2013 [6 favorites]


is this thread about that McRib thing

Get the rope.
posted by Sangermaine at 10:44 AM on December 31, 2013 [8 favorites]


Since nobody else has mentioned it and some may wonder, the correct pronunciation of Kreuz is "Krites," rhyming with "lights." I have a cowboy hat sent me by an actual Texan on my desk as I type this comment, and I would give anything for some real barbecue, preferably Carolina but I'll take it from anyplace that has a true barbecue tradition. I live in (sob) Massachusetts.
posted by languagehat at 10:46 AM on December 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Since nobody else has mentioned it and some may wonder, the correct pronunciation of Kreuz is "Krites," rhyming with "lights." I have a cowboy hat sent me by an actual Texan on my desk as I type this comment, and I would give anything for some real barbecue, preferably Carolina but I'll take it from anyplace that has a true barbecue tradition. I live in (sob) Massachusetts.

Having taken German in high school, lo those many years ago, I've always pronouced it "Kroytz"
posted by hwestiii at 10:58 AM on December 31, 2013


Having taken German in high school, lo those many years ago, I've always pronouced it "Kroytz"

Curiously, though the carnophilic arts translated well from Germany to Texas, pronunciation did not. The "proper" Texan pronunciation of most German words is... idiosyncratic. Cf. Gruene (pronounced green) Hall.
posted by reverend cuttle at 11:05 AM on December 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


MonkeyToes: "Perez sounds like a fascinating guy

Jiro dreams of sushi, and Roy Perez dreams of barbecue. I found this a thoughtful and plainspoken look at what it is about the work that matters so much to one person.
"

For some reason I was really struck by the fact that he doesn't do barbecue at home. You get the sense from how simply he states it that it's an inviolable rule for him. This is one of those great interviews where you're confronted with intimate details about a person's mental landscape and you realize they have hills and valleys in places where you only have plains (that's not to mythologize the guy, since the converse is almost certainly true too). Thanks for posting it, MonkeyToes!
posted by invitapriore at 11:12 AM on December 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


On a side note, having major familial connections with the state of Texas, I lol'ed knowingly at the fact that it is probably the only state where a magazine called $STATE Monthly makes any kind of sense.
posted by invitapriore at 11:16 AM on December 31, 2013


La Barbecue's brisket is as good as Franklin's. And they have free beer.

Shhhhhhhhhhhhhh, don't tell nobody.
posted by jcking77 at 11:22 AM on December 31, 2013


Having watched various documentaries like Jiro and David Chang's Mind of a Chef I suspect that more than a few ultraspecialist chefs like the various ramen, sushi, yakitori specialists in Japanese cuisine and the BBQ specialists in the US seem to be both obsessive about their craft but also really interested in stuff outside of their specialties when they eat on their personal time.

Considering the Tex-Mex and Mex-Mex traditions prevalent throughout the state of Texas plus the infusion of all sorts of other cuisines I can totally see not doing barbecue on your own time especially since good barbecue is a ridiculously time consuming activity.
posted by vuron at 11:40 AM on December 31, 2013


I hear Krites, Kroyts and Cruise interchangeably, all from people who should know. We can bastardize the hell out of any oddly-spelled word you can throw at us down here. My step-grandmother, born in Louisiana in 1918 & moved to Nixon, Texas in 1924 said Cre-ews and none of us were going to test her authority.
posted by Devils Rancher at 12:26 PM on December 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, Kriteses, to cover the possessive apostrophe, in case.
posted by Devils Rancher at 12:29 PM on December 31, 2013


Alright, apologies for the verbal dump here, but I got a lot to say.

I live in Austin, (Not a fan, thanks) but I grew up in Georgia. We backpacked in forests and mountains all over the south and I grew to love all of the styles. (Though I never tried Alabama white barbecue. Need to.) I have now lived for over two decades in Austin.

My greatest disappointment with Texas is that they gave up so much heritage to embrace the cult of the cow. So many small farmers of European origin with a cultural history of pork and they all make almost exclusively beef products because "Yippee, Cowboys are so cool!" (Beef sausage? WTF are you thinking?)
Yeah, I can get pork at some bbq joints here, but what do I get? Ribs. The occasional pork chop. If I am at an African-American style bbq joint, I might get some sliced butt. I wish they had learned to do more (Except the Central Texas A-A style bbq, that IS the best bbq in the state.) One of my best friends decided that he hated me the first time we met. He was born and raised in Texas and I refused to "admit" that beef made the best barbecue. Poor fucker lives in Brooklyn now. I am off the opinion that barbecue=meat+smoke. Sauce should be an afterthought and totally optional on the side. But vinegary sauces are sooooo much butter than that sickeningly sweet tomatoey crap that everyone seems to prefer everywhere. Vnegar brings out meat and smoke flavors. Molasses and tomato hide them. So good on Central Texas for eschewing sauces.

But barbecue around here in Central Texas?
I like Smitty's better than Kreuz's. I have always hat much better experiences with their food. I like Kreuz's a lot. They are number 2. Chisholm Trail is no. 3; tolerable but nothing great. Black's would probably be somewhere down the list near number 15 or 18 if there were enough bbq joints in that town. I do not see the attraction to that place. It has to be the sign. The sausage has always been chalky, the ribs have the meat overcooked and falling off the bone and the brisket is tough and dry. But HEY! They're opening one in Austin!
However, better than all four of the Lockhart joints is the City market in Luling.
We don't go there anymore.
The Lockhart joints know that Austin is their bread and butter and do not blink at beardos, and blacks and gays and punks and techies and hipsters walking through their doors with folding money. Luling City Market? If you don't look "normal" expect to be treated differently. Sure there are African-American families and Latino families that are treated with complete respect. I just wonder why they are always in the back room while the front room is all white. Then there was the time when we took my biracial niece there on the way to the beach and got eyeballed and sneered at the entire time by staff and customers. And they messed up our order and generally made it memorable, in a negative way. They treated my biracial lesbian friends the same. It's a pity. Their barbecue is good.
I don't have the patience for Franklin's even though I know one of their pitmasters.
La's used to be in my hood, but even their lines were stupid. Austin has a long way to go before they have anything resembling a worthwhile barbecue culture.

But if I was given my choice of where to go for barbecue in Central Texas, it wouldn't be Lockhart or Luling. It would have been Ben's Longbranch, but Ben didn't have any kids who wanted to take over the business so he cashed it in. Central Texas African-American style barbecue is now mostly represented by Sam's and I never liked theirs as much as Ben's. Ben had a way with mutton. Greasy, gamey mutton ribs, smoked with nothing but salt and coarse ground pepper. That was magic. And his sliced pork butt was excellent.
But alas, Ben is gone. No longer can I hit 11th street. Now, if I am choosing my favorite, I must drive to Llano, to Coopers. If you are lucky, they are smoking some goat. If not, you will always find beef ribs as well as the usual. I am an admitted, dedicated lover of pork barbecue, but I have never had Cooper's pork ribs be anything worth mentioning. Their beef ribs and their brisket have always been amazing. Their sausage is pretty damn good, too. But I can't give anyone extra points for sausage, you can only ever lose points for it. If I had to choose only one thing from their pit, it would be their beef ribs. Meat on the bone, slow smoked, tender, salty and peppery, and huge beef flavor that makes brisket taste like it came off some random, generic animal bred to be a source of easy to digest, tasteless pablum.
Now, drawbacks to Cooper's? I have never been there with anyone but my wife and kid or a few guys on their way west, so I am not sure how retrograde their attitudes are. I do know that they like their sauce and some of their pit guys will dunk your meat in it without asking unless you are ready to yell at them to stop (or, you know, inform them before hand).
Added benefit to Cooper's? Their beans. I am not a lover of sides. I usually ignore them. But Cooper's keeps a big pot of jalapeno pinto beans heating at the back of the restaurant. It is self serve and comes as part of the meal. I could go there and just eat those beans some days.

Anyway, Kreuz's family deserves props for staying true to their roots and growing the business. Roy may be a scowl-y fellow but he's always been nice, everyone there hasbeen no matter what assorted group of weirdos I have been there with. I had to stop reading the article for a while when I got to the bit about the teeth. (shudder)

Ooh, if you are there, go to the meat case and buy some of their hotdogs. They are worth a try.

posted by Seamus at 12:55 PM on December 31, 2013 [4 favorites]


On a side note, having major familial connections with the state of Texas, I lol'ed knowingly at the fact that it is probably the only state where a magazine called $STATE Monthly makes any kind of sense.

Nope. Not really. Though lots of Texans think that.
I used to argue with friends in college who insisted that Texas was the best state in the union. They had never been anywhere else. It is drilled into the heads of people here that this place is unique and just better.

New Mexico has New Mexico Magazine which was founded in 1923, has published original works by Rudolfo Anaya and other famous writers and has a long running segment in the back with New Mexicans telling stories about having to explain to people from the other 49 states that New Mexico IS in fact part of the United States. NM Magazine is a treasure in the state. New Mexico is just one of the 50 states in this country, each with their own identities and their own natives with strong loyalties to that state. Most of those people just don't crow about it as much as Texans do.



Back, sorta, on topic:
I have to agree that the proper pronunciation is
Kreuz=Krites
Kreuz's=Krites-es
In Texas, trying to pronounce things rationally is a fool's game (ahem, *Manchaca*).
posted by Seamus at 1:07 PM on December 31, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm ecumenical in my love for barbecue. As long as it's done well, I'll love it. Pork, beef, sauce, no sauce -- all good in my books. I'm pretty sure I ate at Kreuz one time on a trip through Texas years ago. If it's the place I'm remembering, it was very good but not leaps and bounds better than some of the no-name places I found along the way. Bad barbecue, though, is a thing of sadness, and after eating the good stuff it's hard to stomach things like mushy, too-sweet parboiled ribs.

The part in the interview where he talked about coming in to work the day after having a nut removed made me cringe, though. There's dedication, and there's taking it too far, and for me that's a bit too far. Ow.
posted by Dip Flash at 1:32 PM on December 31, 2013


Seamus, you have sold me on trying Cooper's.

(And when I moved here, I had a lot of trouble with Manchaca, even having grown up in Houston with San Felipe and Bissonnet.)
posted by immlass at 2:20 PM on December 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'll second Cooper's. It's great.

Just be careful driving back at night. I think I counted more than a deer a minute on the drive home.
posted by asterix at 4:11 PM on December 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


Can those of the NC and TX schools make peace? The true enemy is the sickeningly sweet dreck of the midwest.

And for those asking, yes, Franklin's is truly as good as everyone says; the man is a smoke whisperer. Smitty's over Kreutz (ever since the split, Kreutz' hasn't been half as good as it used to be). Lulling City Market is outstanding.
posted by petrilli at 5:07 PM on December 31, 2013


One of these days, I'm going to need to make an extended trip home to actually try some BBQ from all of these places. Growing up, BBQ was that god awful stringy mess served on a bun that made you sad it wasn't sloppy joe day in the elementary school cafeteria. I lived most of my life ignoring BBQ, and now, thanks to a series of ridiculous coincidences and grilled pineapple slathered in BBQ sauce, BBQ is kind of what I do. I've had people from the Carolinas tell me that my sauces and pork are excellent, and an Alabaman told me my white sauce is the best he's had, but I haven't ever had the 'real' thing, at least in terms of the pilgrimage I've obviously got to make sometime.

Sadly, brisket is kind of out of the ballpark for me here. Too hard to find, not a standard cut. Beef ribs, too, for that matter.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:13 PM on December 31, 2013


Luling City Market? If you don't look "normal" expect to be treated differently. Sure there are African-American families and Latino families that are treated with complete respect. I just wonder why they are always in the back room while the front room is all white. Then there was the time when we took my biracial niece there on the way to the beach and got eyeballed and sneered at the entire time by staff and customers.

Wow, I have never noticed that. Been going since the late 60's & the dining rooms were always both integrated. The last time I was there, a large black family held forth at the long table by the drink counter. We were passing through on the way to the beach with my 12 yo son & his best friend at the time, who was pretty obviously black and had a perfectly normal meal & good service. It really shocks me that you see a trend there over multiple visits, because I would say I've experienced exactly the opposite going back 40 years.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:25 PM on December 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


This thread had me craving barbecue yesterday, which is difficult because I live in southern New Jersey, near Philly, and the "eclectic" barbecue joint in our town closed earlier this year. (Their barbecue tended to be extremely dry and badly in need of extra sauce.) But happily my next door neighbors had a New Year's shindig for our block last night, and the guy half of the couple happens to be from North Carolina and made a pulled pork shoulder with traditional "eastern" (vinegar/pepper/hot sauce/brown sugar) sauce. Serendipitous.
posted by graymouser at 6:31 AM on January 1


Hey, in the UK, barbecue (often nastily reduced to BBQ) is when you cook over something hot - coals or plastic blogs you buy in bags or any old thing - on a wire rack placed over it. Usually done in the garden in summer, by men, who burn the meat on the outside and leave it bloody on the inside. HEALTH TIP
you can transfer very nasty bacteria or viruses from the raw meat to the cooked meat, by using the same tongs/other equipment. To kill them off, plunge the tongs into the hot coals and ash for thirty seconds after using them on raw meat. Tip from a food hygiene inspector!
We see it as quintessentially Australian - "barbie on the beach at christmas!" (add accent).
I don't usually like cooking shows and i'm not a meat eater or a fan of Ainsley Harriot (he irritates some people, not me) UK TV chef, ages back. But he did a great TV series on barbecue round the world, as a cooking method, Thailand, Jamaica, South Africa, somewhere else in the Carribbean and other places, it was different in each place and the methods and techniques were really interesting. There was certainly a tie-in book, there always is, and it's probably knocking around on amazon or ebay. It was very interesting to see the similarities and differences around the world, obviously entirely independently developed, and in Thailand, Mr. AH, famous for eating chillis, couldn't manage the mouthful the little old lady (somewhere rural and traditional) shoved into her mouth.
posted by maiamaia at 11:08 AM on January 1


That's it, I'm smoking a brisket this week.
posted by reverend cuttle at 3:45 PM on January 1 [1 favorite]


The "proper" Texan pronunciation of most German words is... idiosyncratic.

Not just German. I live near a street called Beauchamp. Guess how that is pronounced?

Beechum.


Yes.

Seriously.
posted by *s at 6:01 PM on January 1 [1 favorite]


Not just German. I live near a street called Beauchamp. Guess how that is pronounced?

Of course it's "beechum". Don't you know the limerick cycle?

There was a young fellow named Cholmondeley,
Whose bride was so mellow and colmondeley
That the best man, Colquhoun,
An inane young bolqufoun,
Could only stand still and stare dolmondeley.

The bridegroom's first cousin, young Belvoir,
Whose dad was a Lancashire welvoir,
Arrived with George Bohun
At just about nohun
When excitement was mounting to felvoir.

The vicar - his surname was Beauchamp -
Of marriage endeavoured to teauchamp,
While the bridesmaid, Miss Marjoribanks,
Played one or two harjoripranks;
But the shoe that she threw failed to reauchamp.
posted by kenko at 9:15 PM on January 1 [1 favorite]




> The "proper" Texan pronunciation of most German words is... idiosyncratic.

Not just German. I live near a street called Beauchamp. Guess how that is pronounced?

Beechum.


Just to make explicit what kenko suggested, that's not Texan, that's the actual British pronunciation of the name.

Yes.

Seriously.
posted by languagehat at 6:50 AM on January 2


It happens everywhere. There's, for example, the small town of Sequim Washington. If you're at all versed in Spanish, that looks like "say-KEEM." Nope. "Skwim." I have no idea where the E went.

Also, never eat the Mexican food there.
posted by Devils Rancher at 11:19 AM on January 2 [1 favorite]


Sequim isn't supposed to be a Spanish word, though. It's an aboriginal (or take on an aboriginal) name.
posted by rtha at 11:23 AM on January 2


Oh I know, it's just a brain thing. The point being that there's a million ways to mis-pronounce everything, and your mispronunciation will be based on your pre-conceved notion. I try to make Spanish out of lots of foreign words because it's the only other language I even partially know.

The Guadalupe river in Texas got shortened pretty quickly to Guad-loop, even by the time of the Texas revolution. I was reading a history of Fannin's ill-fated stand against the Mexican army (Fannin was a buffoon whose monument should be pulled down) east of Goliad and one of the semi-literate soldiers who survived & later wrote a first-person account of the battle mentioned that "earlier in the day, they had crossed the War Loop river." That was obviously his mis-hearing of other people's mispronunciation based on their inability to pronounce written Spanish.

Around here, we have to deal with Native, Spanish, German, Czech & a few French place names.
posted by Devils Rancher at 2:51 PM on January 2


« Older Peter Scott (1947-2013), developer of HyTelnet   |   Heck, it's Tex-Czech! Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post