My grandma settled a farm, ran shine, grew cotton, picked it with the help of sharecroppers and had a soul food joint called Edna & MIllie’s Cafe in La Grange, Texas. Needless to say, this woman had soul.
On the farm, nothing went to waste. Especially when it came to butchering. The scrappy German settler in her, mixed with her 2nd generation sharecropper friends and family, created some of the best slow and low charcuterie that I’ve ever had.
Now that she’s moved on to more blissful living arrangements, the lineage and chromosomes that she delivered unto me, keep me in an antique culinary dreamscape filled with iron contraptions that billow the sweet smell of post oak smoke.
Speaking of genetics, my Pops is a BBQ guru. You can feel the knowledge that he’s gleaned from being born on the farm, grateful for each morsel of food that he shepherded into this world. He grew up and surrounded himself with other Hill Country pit masters. Those with the fortitude and intuition to keep that fire at the precise temperature, for days, just by their innate feeling. His refinements over the years and pure old school technique makes me glow in admiration. The exact same kind of luminescence of when you are in the presence of a legend.
There are a handful of people that are still around that carry this knowledge. They are the living stories of a time that has slipped into the atmosphere like a blue smoke evaporating from the stack of a pit.
“You can feel the knowledge that he’s gleaned from being born on the farm, grateful for each morsel of food that he shepherded into this world.”
The following snapshots are of 125 year old buildings forged with rocks, brick, iron work and over a century of smoke. Each one effusing an intoxicating olfactory stimulant that can only be experienced and never bought. Time soaked walls which barely reflect the straw hued light from above. The kind of light with that murmuring buzz, which illuminates a path for the spirits of Old West pioneers to meander as they please. Rusty signs of products that are now only memories, old photos of the pit masters who knew they were culinary sorcerers bringing satiety to their sparse communities. This is the real deal. Old school. Perfect. Let me say it again. Perfect.
I could have written a review on each place below like other writers do, and you would have missed the real essence of each place. You would have zoomed through and forgot what you just read here by the time you clicked on the next blog you’re about to read. That’s why I’d like for you to slow down and peer into these photos of an amazing culinary history. In these pictures are the generations of pit masters who leave us swimming in awe with one bite of the best beef and pork, be it ribs, brisket, hot links or sauce. These are glimpses in the belly of the last-of-its-kind, touchstone establishments. Keep the dream alive, it’s in your hands. God bless.