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Other Voices: Barbecue in Brooklyn? Hahahaha

The debate over which region of the country has the best barbecue is not likely to get settled anytime soon. But one claim of barbecue supremacy was met with an astonishingly rapid natural response. It began as a slow rumble in the Carolinas, made its way across Tennessee into Memphis, up into Kansas City before reaching a crescendo in Texas.

The sound? Laughter. The claim? Brooklyn barbecue is taking over the world.

A 2014 article in Vice that was recently republished and is making the rounds on Twitter said barbecue restaurants are popping up all over the world and when asked, the owners are citing barbecue joints in Brooklyn they’ve visited as the inspiration for these new restaurants in far-flung locales.

Bless their hearts.

It’s easy to see how the burgeoning capital of hipster eating might fancy itself a leader in any particular cuisine. New York City has great food: thin crust pizza, crusty bagels, fancy chefs, and cuisine representing every point on the globe. And we can get emotional about hot dog turf: Gray’s Papaya or Nathan’s? Choose your tribe.

But every Texan knows better than to step foot into a barbecue restaurant anywhere north of the Mason-Dixon line. It’s not that the food is bad, it’s just not real barbecue. And it makes us sad. Better to enjoy the local cuisine than to pine for home.

And debating folks from other barbecue cultures around the South is a lot of fun, especially if the argument devolves into a taste challenge. We’re happy to taste inferior North Carolina barbecue, because, well, it’s still barbecue. But challenging Brooklyn to a barbecue cook-off is like Mark Cuban baiting an Upward youth basketball team to go up against the Mavs. It ain’t right.

Just look at the tray of barbecue from Fette Sau’s in Brooklyn that Vice photographed to go with the story about New York’s influence on global brisket. The limp pile of meat, the smushed Hawaiian rolls, the miniature pickles that somebody may have pilfered from a Jewish deli.

If you’ve ever eaten at Pecan Lodge in Dallas, Franklin Barbecue in Austin or Pinkerton’s in Houston, you’ve no doubt had the brisket. You know what good brisket is. Good brisket is a friend of yours, and the brisket from Fette Sau’s is not good-looking brisket. There’s almost no smoke ring, and there’s more bark from the yippy dogs carried in their small handbags around Williamsburg. Nothing seems tasty enough to even make a mess.

Surely New Yorkers love Texas barbecue, and maybe one day a Texas pitmaster will take on the selfless hardship of leaving Texas for a brisket-oriented mission trip to spread the good word. Until then, we invite those impoverished souls living in barbecue deserts down for a visit.

Y’all come in and make a plate.

— Dallas Morning News

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