10 Reasons Why

10 Things You Should Know About Texas Barbecue

Since I seem to be in the midst of a thematic mini-trend about Texas, here’s an older bit that is making its Bonnywood debut. Enjoy.


1. The intense and possibly gun-drawing pride.

As with most things, Texans are almost militantly proud of their barbecue. In the mind of a Texan, barbecue prepared anywhere else in the country or the world can’t even begin to compete. In fact, if you are visiting the state, and you stupidly happen to mention a fondness for barbecue from a foreign land like Kansas City, Atlanta or one of those trashy Carolina settlements, it is perfectly legal for you to be killed on the spot. The Texas Rangers will even hold you in place until the offended Texan can locate one of his many firearms and then terminate your daring rudeness.

2. Mooing, not oinking.

For a barbecue event of any kind to receive official Texas approval, a cow has to die. Beef is essential, and there are to be no refutations to this edict. Yes, you’re allowed to fiddle around with sausages and pulled pork, maybe even some chicken or turkey, all that lesser mess, as long as doing so doesn’t distract from the main attraction. Beef is king. This phrase can be found chiseled on many a gravestone in the Lone Star State.

  After these two indisputable facts have been understood by all and the unbelievers have been dealt with, we then enter the section of Barbecue Law classified as “still Texan but some disagreement is allowed concerning the finer details”. You should be aware of all arguments in order to survive any social occasion…

3. Degree of moisture.

There are those who prefer that their barbecued meat contain so much juice that simply poking it with a fork can result in the total drenching of everyone in a five-table radius. Meat was meant to be succulent, brook no compromise. On the flip side, we have the Rawhide Rowdies who insist on a degree of juice-negating crispness that will leave you thirsty for the rest of your life. There is no middle ground, it’s either saturation or Sahara.

4. Appropriate time for sauciness.

Three camps here: Those who slavishly slather their meat with barbecue sauce from the time it is butchered through the entire cooking process and up to the moment just before a morsel enters your mouth. Next up are the folks who cook dryly but then offer up vats of simmering nectar for dunking and drowning at the table. Finally, we have the aficionados who affirm that meat and sauce should never meet or the world will end. This trifecta of variance has led to a number of civil wars over the years.

5. Slice-and-dice or the whole shebang.

This pertains to the sausages, and discussion only comes into play once you have satisfied the beef-must-be-the-main-feature regulation and the Texas Rangers have left the building. The actual cooking of sausages and links, of course, involves doing so with the tubes relatively intact. (Otherwise, you would have a mess that no one is happy about.) But for serving purposes, debate once again ensues.

One clan prefers that a sausage be placed on their plate in the formative state, leaving it up to the consumer to either whip out an always-handy knife and proceed with the carving-fest, or gnaw at the entire tube, taking bites as needed. (Understandably, this method is very popular in Red Light districts.) The other clan clamors for the sausage to be pre-hacked, resulting in an array of meaty coinage that can then be drenched in sauce and speared with a fork or a finger or a grenade clip. Leftover discs (which are rare) can be used as spares in a checkers game should someone drunkenly lose one of the original playing pieces. (Astonishing as it may seem, some Texans do engage in games of skill that require planning and analytical thinking, although you wouldn’t know it based on the clueless people that often get elected to public office.)

6. The productivity of ribs.

This factor is dependent on your degree of willingness to invest extensive physicality into your meal. Some folks will stop at nothing to get at the tender meat, spending hours gnawing at a bone to find the treasure. Others have busier schedules and will often pass up this labor-intensive barbecue selection that can require you to rearrange your entire schedule to allow enough time for consumption.

7. Mustard or mayo when it comes to spuds.

You must have potato salad in some form, that much is non-negotiable. But the method of preparation is firmly divided into two camps. We have the creaminess converts, who insist that mayonnaise is an essential, preferably primary, ingredient for the potato salad to be deemed worthy. On the other side of the campground are the tangy touters, convinced that the salad is simply not edible unless things are spicy and yellow. Both parties agree, however, that the mixing of the two condiments is akin to devil’s work and should never be attempted.

8. The coleslaw conundrum.

Once again, two distinct masses of followers. We have the folks who must have coleslaw with their barbecue, whether you make it with mayo, mustard or bacon grease. You cannot shirk this necessity, and the shame of not shredding cabbage when one should is cause for endless humiliation and life-long banishment. On the other page, we have the folks who will never eat anything that isn’t meat and/or potatoes, thus avoiding non-starchy vegetables of any kind regardless of the preparation or presentation skills of the cook, the flow of alcohol, or local governmental rulings.

9. Bibs.

You never wear one. End of story. (Related note: Despite the lack of drippage protection, you must be willing to attack your meal with a gusto, using your bare hands whenever necessary, especially after you have knocked your cutlery to the floor in a power-play to grab the last remaining cut of brisket.)

10. Finger-sucking.

This you do. You do not ignore any juices, sauces or liquid fat that may misbehave and adhere to your digits. You go after these escapees with a vengeance, sucking at your fingers with enough intensity to peel the chrome off a trailer hitch. If such behavior embarrasses you in any way, then you really shouldn’t have come into the restaurant. Or the state of Texas.


Originally published in “The Sound and the Fury” way back in the day. Some changes made for this post. My personal preferences: My fave barbecue meat is sausage, followed closely by turkey, so I’m already at odds with most Texans. I want my meat juicy, which should not come as a surprise, and I want enough sauce that the items on my plate can do the backstroke. I don’t care if the sausage is cut or uncut, I just want it. I never get the ribs, because life is too short. I like all kinds of potato salad, bring it on. I’m also a fan of coleslaw, but I like it creamily drenched, not dry. (That mess where some folks just shred some cabbage and sprinkle a dash of vinegar? Not for me.) I never wear a bib. And yes, I suck.

Story behind the photo: This is my actual dinner plate from a nephew’s wedding that I attended in Houston a few months ago. Some of you may note the exuberance of pickles and onions. This was not covered in my above treatise, since it’s not really a Texas thing, but I must have both of those condiments when I eat barbecue or my life is not complete.

Speaking of that wedding, here’s a bonus shot of Partner and I at said shindig. As you can see, we have our own unique conception of proper wedding attire.




27 replies »

  1. I’ve heard rumours about Texas bbq being a holy activity in Texas. I’ll have to get there one day and try it for myself! aha!

    Also, I quite like your wedding attire! You both look perfect. Absolutely perfect.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I love the red runners, the cowboy boots and the ties! 🙂

    As a frostbitten Canuck, I cannot weigh in on the subtleties of barbecue. But I used to live in Arizona, and I liked theirs. Is that a horrible thing to say to a Texas person?

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes, it’s a horrible thing to say to a Texan, but say it anyway.
      More importantly, I lived most my life in AZ and wasn’t aware they had a way to barbeque. But then it’s not really my thing, so maybe I wasn’t paying attention.

      Question to Brian: what’s the life expectancy in Texas? Seems like if the bullets don’t get you, the food will. 😉

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks. 😉 I was in flight school in Phoenix at the time and now that you mention it, I don’t remember seeing “barbecue” restaurants or anything like that. We students often ate together (and were from all over the States and various parts of the world), and we had one instructor who did huge amounts of barbecue. He may have been from Texas now that I think about it!

        Liked by 2 people

    • Lynette: I can’t imagine that anything you could say would ever be horrible. (Do I get bonus points for that? Hope so.)

      Christi: It really is amazing that the population in Texas keeps growing. I don’t see how, with all the various ways the citizens have of dispatching anyone who doesn’t agree with them. Then again, I’m still alive (as far as I know), so it might not be as deadly as it seems…

      Liked by 2 people

    • I’m glad that your plate would be loaded with the pungent condiments, but I’m much more in awe of the Grant Wood connection. I think it’s beyond time that you scribble out an autobiography. Get to it! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh no you didn’t defile my Carolina barbecue by calling it trashy! Bwahahahaha !
    I’ve had barbecue in Texas…with the “Ewing” clan, (who pretended to live in Dallas.). Don’t remember spending as much time eating the grub as I did chatting with “Ray Krebbs.”
    He was PURTY in person.
    Anyway…I forgive you for the Carolina comment.
    Besides…over yonder in them hills of Carolina, we mainly eat potted meat, pickled pigs feet, fat back, and the occasional person who says our barbecue is trashy. (Them folks make for some GOOD eatin’!). 😬

    Liked by 3 people

    • Okay, first, I think Carolina barbecue is fine, indeed. I just have to be careful about sharing this with the wrong people in Texas or they’ll shoot my ass. Second, Ray Krebbs, was HOT back in the day. Yum. Third, “them folks make for some GOOD eatin’!” was brilliant… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • I understand about the Carolina thing. My beloved friend that I cared for while he was dying from a brain tumor, would have challenged you to a duel over Kansas City Barbecue sauce.
        And yes…Ray was a hottie. Bobby was cute and JR was a charmer but there was something about Ray.
        Yep…up ‘ere in them hollers of Carolina or down in the tiny towns of Georgia…you’d best not step out of line, lest you become Sunday-go-to-meetin’ dinner…and we always offer thanks for the bounty and prayers that the meat will be tender. LOL

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m British & vegetarian, what do I know about BBQs?! To hell with the don’t mix mayo & mustard rule, though mustard & ketchup is my preferred fake burger condiment. And I could live on pickles. Now let’s talk about that photo. Those boots! Those ties! Great pic, you look good on each other 😉.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I’m going to ignore the comment about mustard AND ketchup on your fake burger, because there’s a lot of things wrong with that sentence. (But, hey, be true to yourself. Go forth and prosper.) Moving on to pickles: I love them, in any way I can get them. But partner will not touch them if his life depended on it. Will NOT. This caused me a lot of concern during our early years (How can he be such an infidel? What other atrocities might be forthcoming?), but I guess I got over it because it’s been nearly 20 years now. Life moves in mysterious ways… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Yee Haw Brian!! I LOVE the boots (and the Converse on Partner). You make a splendid couple! ❤ Now to the BBQ post you so generously shared. Utah is not known for BBQ. A "bar-BE-cue" is an event, hosted mostly during the summer, especially on Memorial Day (if it's dry enough, this year it was Rain City), the Fourth of July and Pioneer Day. Up in these parts "Peach Days" is also cause for much BBQ. The food at such events might actually contain barbecue sauce, but it's not mandatory. One may see pizza at a BBQ, usually the event is potluck, so if one of the attendees can't cook, pizza is acceptable (I guess). Me? I always show up with sliced watermelon and I never take any home again either. I can make a great potato salad, but I'm a Miracle Whip with a dab or two of Mayo (I don't like mayonnaise) mixed in for the flavor. Also pickle relish features in my potato salad, as does mustard (the spice instead of squirting yellow goo all over my salad). I have used French's mustard in a pinch (and once went astray using Golden's spicy mustard (ugh). I then season with onion salt (or powder, salt is mostly verboten in my house now), celery seed (or salt), a pinch of garlic and parsley seasoning, and some thyme, until it tastes right. Lots of tasting goes on. So my version of potato salad apparently violates all sorts of 'rules'. I don't care. It's DELICIOUS. And to the rib conundrum? What about boneless ribs? Yeah that's an oxymoron, but if I were to BBQ something 'at home', I'd choose those. They're short ribs, they're meaty as hell and they take away the mess factor (IMHO). Fair warning. If one has dogs, one needs to be bone in ribs, else the doggie in the equation may be angered and an angry doggie is just a step down from a pissed off pussy. Sausages? I can't eat those any more (haven't been offered one in some time). 😛

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yee Haw, indeed. First, it sounds like there might be some mixed signals about barBEcue in Utah. Perhaps I need to come up there and straighten things out. Then again, maybe not. There’s only so much time in the day.

      Second, your version of potato salad sounds quite scrumptious. (It might get you shot in Texas, but still, scrumptious.) I’m a big fan of pickles in everything, although Partner is not. And that’s the key to a long relationship, recognizing that your significant other is misguided in his choices but you love him anyway.

      Third, even with the “short” option, I’m still not a fan of ribs. This is yet another thing that distances me from my own family, as many of them will go after a rack of ribs with the intensity of a woodpecker.

      Fourth, your final bit about sausages and “haven’t been offered in some time” is worthy of an award. Loved it.


  6. Feeling shameful and with a need to confess, I put both mustard and mayo in my potato salad (it’s an eastern shore of Maryland thing). I’m so hungry for ribs after reading your BBQ Manifesto that I’m headed to Happy’s to get a half rack and a side of cole slaw.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It’s okay if you mix your condiments, as I’ll support you regardless, as it’s the right thing to do. But you must tell me more about this “Happy” place. I’m always trying to get there, but I haven’t quite yet found it… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  7. BBQ is a staple around our house, and there are lots of restaurants that feature it, too. I like it all, and any which way. Sometimes I’ll have coleslaw, sometimes potato salad, but there must be a side of pickles & onions. I’ve had Arthur Bryant’s Kansas City BBQ which is really good, and I do like Carolina mustard sauce a lot.
    Love the photo of y’all! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Ok, just got to add my 2 cents worth (and that is probably twice as much as it IS worth).
    The word is barbie, mate, – barbie! Only hoity toity folks call it a barbeque. Sling another prawn on the barbie and maybe we can yak about buring food etiquette. 🙂

    P.S love the boots and the ties – lookng good guys.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I somehow knew that you would broach the “barbie” angle. (Although the “prawn” angle caught me off guard; I can’t be prepared for everything.) That aside, it sounds like you might be challenging me to a BBQ/barbie cook-off, and I’m ready. I’ll take a gander at my social schedule and get back to you… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I agree with Peggy. Love the boots. I gave away my suede and fancy pairs to my mom and kept the old Acme black ones, worn on the instep from stirrups, until they got lost during moving. Had them 20 years and wearing them on the website photo with my first horse. Never had a more comfortable pair of shoes.

    Liked by 2 people

    • There was a time when I wore cowboy boots whenever possible. (Mostly ropers, but I did branch out from time to time.) But I really haven’t worn them in a long time and, in fact, the pair that I dragged out for this wedding had been stagnating in a corner of the closet for a good number of years. But I do agree, once you get a pair of boots properly broken in, they are astonishingly comfortable…

      Liked by 1 person

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