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BBQ in the City

When I moved to New York City nearly two years ago it felt like coming home. Despite growing up alternately in suburban sprawl and southern rural areas, I adapted quickly, only rarely feeling pangs of homesickness. To my surprise, the one thing found myself missing on an almost daily basis was Barbecue.

While living in Jacksonville, Florida for the four years before I moved north, BBQ became a social hobby of mine. Jacksonville is the largest city in the US by square mileage, and yet tops out at just over one-million residents. The vastness of it has led to what may be the most BBQ joints per cap-pita in the South (Texas is not part of the South in my mind). It became a mission of a few friends and myself to seek out the diversity in BBQ flavors which Jacksonville had to offer, and we probably hit a dozen different places over the course of 6 months, returning weekly to a few favorites.

Fast-forward to March 2010. I set out on a road trip from New York to Texas that was supposed to be a musical trip of research and discovery. Each day when I sat down to write a blog post I found myself writing more about beer and food than music. Our trip took us inadvertently through a BBQ tour of half of the US, hitting Western North Carolina, Northern Georgia, Alabama, New Orleans, Houston, Austin, and Memphis – each with their own unique BBQ history. When I looked back at two weeks of blog posts, my passion for BBQ was much clearer than my all-but-consuming interest music. This was somewhat startling to me.

I think I love BBQ for the same reasons I love folk music: its pure, its universal, and its regionally unique. It isn’t about who’s is the best, each region has they’re own specialty to offer. Which is why I had trouble adapting to the NYC BBQ culture. There is truly some great BBQ in New York, but most of it doesn’t have a strong cultural identity. Its either generic or lifted from some other region. Whats worse, its expensive. I really feel that BBQ is the people’s food; its rich history and flavor came from people who HAD to cook it the way they did. Its hard to find a pork sandwich in New York for under $10.

My trip through the South was as disturbing as it was elating because of all the simple little things local BBQ include that New York BBQ places don’t bother with. Namely – warm sauce. Warm BBQ sauce is amazing, it makes the flavor sing. Why then, had I yet to find a single restaurant in the Tri-State area with warm sauce? What is so difficult about that?! I finally found one today, which gives me hope for the five boroughs.

Its time for me to stop ignoring the signs from the universe and create an outlet for this passion. Therefore, as of today I am launching the NYC BBQ Blog. I will plunge into the depths of this city, and find the real people that are making real affordable soulful barbecue. It isn’t just about the meat either, sides and extras are just as important in making the experience complete. I’ll also highlight some of the more well known places and some tips on how to eat afford-ably at them. My extreme broke-ness has forced me to find ways to do so.

I’m no expert and I’m definitely not a food critic, but I do love food. And so I’m going to report my findings here, and if anyone is interested they’re welcome to the information. Meanwhile check out NYC Food Guy, who is great.  Maybe with some collective bargaining we can catch the interest in some of the bigger more expensive places. I’m sure they’d love the attention of the concentrated BBQ lovers of the city. Check out NYCBBQ.wordpress.com

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