First, Bon Appétit magazine went through a redesign that I suppose is meant to be fresh, but it left me cold. Their edgy, young design is about as edgy as a flyer for the prom. To each his own though. A team of professional designers and market researchers surely know more than I do with my collard greens and eggplant color scheme. Besides, it’s the content that counts.
I was fine with the jaunty covers until last week when it arrived.
It was nigh unspeakable. At the very top, a banner proclaimed the latest issue as, “The BBQ Issue.” And on the cover, a photo of an artfully designed cheeseburger.
Let’s go through this slowly. You’re outside. Outdoors. Out of doors. Out. You’re cooking. It’s a cookout. It’s not barbecue.
It’s 8 p.m. Everyone else is watching American Idol. You are watching your fire until it hits the right temperature. It’s midnight, you are checking on the meat in the smoker. It’s 4 a.m. You are adding wood to keep the smoke level right. It’s noon, and you are beloved because yours is the best meat they have ever tasted. That is barbecue.
No, I’m not the expert. Yes, some folks would disagree with me on some points. You don’t open the smoker. You can do it hot. It doesn’t have to be low and slow. I don’t deny that there are many nuances to barbecue. That’s what makes it so beautiful.
Throwing a burger or a steak on the grill on Memorial Day, a beautiful salmon steak even, that’s not barbecue. That’s a cookout.
I haven’t totally given up on Bon Appétit. There were some decent contents. A section on good summer beers and good cookout (and barbecue-eating) music. A survey of the best barbecue sauces. A very good piece on making slow-smoked beef brisket. A nice technique section explaining the different cuts of pork ribs. And, best of all, and interview with North Carolina pitmaster Ed Mitchell of Raleigh’s The Pit.
On the other hand, the travel section? Of all the great barbecue cities that feature other benefits, which was featured? Liverpool. I don’t know. Don’t ask me. I will be keeping a close eye on the mag though. They gotta do better than this.