I've lived in the Pacific Northwest for 16 years, yet I still feel compelled to say that I'm not *from* here. I don't know when one assimilates to the point of no longer making the distinction. But, apparently for me, it hasn't happened yet. My husband and I are both expats. He's from Germany, and I'm from Texas. And, we share a longing for foods from home. For him, it's bread. That man will drive to the ends of the Earth to get a good pretzel. But, for me, it's Southern food. And, more specifically, it's BBQ. While technically speaking, I'm not an actual expat. I certainly feel like one whenever I get a craving for some good BBQ.
Summertime is when I miss it the most. Every Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day, I search through my list of restaurants with the hope that I'll find a place that can satisfy the craving. In Texas, there was always someone in our circle of family and friends who made excellent BBQ. Just before holidays, we'd take raw slabs of ribs or brisket or whatever is our favorite to the pitmaster's home. And, when we'd receive a text message letting us know that it's ready, we'd grab our keys to go pick up the goodies and drive home with that smoky smell wafting in from the trunk of our car. If the pitmaster wasn't cooking that holiday, we'd order takeout at our go to BBQ joints to make sure that our summer holidays were complete.
There are four main regional styles of BBQ: Memphis, The Carolinas, Kansas City, and of course, Texas. I'm partial to a dry rub with the sauce on the side, as opposed to the saucy Kansas City style. I recently learned that in Chicago, they serve their BBQ on top of french fries and covered in sauce. This is completely unacceptable, y'all. I'm going to Chicago in September and I will definitely not be trying this.
Whenever I talk about how much I miss it, I inevitably receive unsolicited recommendations from well meaning Seattleites who've never sunk their teeth into a properly smoked piece of meat. A restaurant called Dixie's has come up repeatedly. And, I've had folks excitedly tell me about the ridiculously spicy sauce that Dixie's is known for. It doesn't dawn on them that if conquering a spicy sauce is the only reason to go there, then maybe the actual food is not up to snuff.
At first, I would heed the advice and go to these restaurants. But now, I don't even bother unless the person making the recommendation passes this test.
I've recently heard about a place called Jeff's Texas Style BBQ that's about 40 miles from our house. We've tried to eat there twice. Both times, we walked through the door and inhaled that glorious smell. And, both times, they were COMPLETELY SOLD OUT. You've never seen a sadder face than that of a Texas expat who has just driven for almost an hour to get a fix only to find out that the ribs are gone.
I know that I'll never stop trying to find that perfect BBQ that reminds me of home. And, I also know that when I tell my husband that we're making a road trip to try to find it, he'll understand completely.