Apr 22, 2024

Beyond Brisket: The intricacies of Texas barbecue

Reporting Texas

To some, barbecue might just be a food, but to many Texans, especially Kathleen McElroy, it is so much more than that.

“I’m so obsessed with barbecue,” said McElroy, a University of Texas journalism professor and self-proclaimed barbecue lover.

She joined host Ivy Fowler on the newest episode of the “Bless Your Heart” podcast, produced by Bri de Latour and reported by Aislyn Gaddis.

The interview was supposed to start with everyone trying brisket from two popular Austin barbecue joints, Terry Black’s and Black’s, to see if they could tell which was which.

But McElroy proved herself as an Austin barbecue expert right away when she could tell the difference before she even took a bite.

Ivy Fowler and Kathleen McElroy talk barbecue.

“We’re gonna have to blindfold her for this part,” Ivy said jokingly before it came time to taste the barbecue.

McElroy said she knew the difference based on the packaging — even though it was unlabeled — and the size of the brisket cuts. And while she said there were notable differences between the two, she wouldn’t say which one she thought was better.

“I try not to rate barbecue publicly because I think of them as all my children,” she said. “There are also particular ways people make and wrap barbecue that will affect it just minutes away from the establishment. So, I am not going to judge.”

Despite being a native Houstonian, McElroy didn’t become interested in barbecue until she was living in New York.

“I had access to some of the best sushi in the world, so of course, I became obsessed with barbecue in New York, which at that point did not have a whole lot,” she said.