I received in the mail a notice from UNC Press about a book that will be coming out in November, a book on North Carolina barbecue with the title, “Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue.” Yeah, I know — “Just what we need, another barbecue book.” That’s what I thought, too., until I saw who wrote this sucker: John Shelton Reed, Dale Volberg Reed, and William McKinney. I know each of these individuals, but Will McKinney is a friend who may be more knowledgeable about NC barbecue than anyone I know. How knowledgeable? Well, how many people have spent HUNDREDS of hours gathering oral interviews from owners and pitmasters of NC barbecue establishments? How many people can say they founded the North Carolina BBQ Society — when they were a student??? McKinney has a passion for barbecue that few can match, so I’m quite sure his contributions were invaluable to this book.
John Shelton Reed is not a historian or a food writer by trade; he’s a sociologist, and that makes this book even more exciting in my mind. It’s the human dynamic of barbecue that fascinates me, and I really can’t wait to dive into this book. Professor Reed and his wife are two of the leading authorities on Southern culture (if you haven’t read their book, 1001 Things Everyone Should Know About the South, you need to), so I’m pretty darned sure that this book on barbecue won’t disappoint you.