I’ve just created a page that lists all of my Houston Chronicle barbecue columns, with non-paywalled links for your viewing pleasure.
You can view it by clicking here, or clicking the “My Houston Chronicle BBQ Columns” at any time in the menu above.
After writing 52 consecutive weekly columns (that’s a year’s worth), the Chronicle has effectively renewed my contract for another year (thanks y’all!).
I expect to do a bit more traveling, as well as writing a few more historical pieces, and you might even see me cooking a brisket or two. We’ll see how it goes.
Many thanks to my regular readers and those who write in each week with comments. A recent column, “A bastion of barbecue tradition in the piney woods of East Texas“, generated the most emails of any column I’ve written. People really love that place. In the Central-Texas-BBQ-centric world we live in today, it is often overlooked, as is a lot of East Texas barbecue. I’ll be pointing my GPS toward East Texas a bit more over the next few months. Lot’s of good stories there, even though good barbecue is harder to find.
In the New Zion piece, I purposefully left out the founding story, as it has been told many times. Here’s a great piece about New Zion written by Pat Sharpe of Texas Monthly, if you are interested.
Also, a reader sent the following email regarding the founding of New Zion. It’s basically an eyewitness account, along the lines of what’s been told in the past. Still a fun read and worth entering into the public record.
Thank you for the wonderful article on New Zion. My practice was about two blocks down the road. I was privileged to watch the entire development of the church barbeque. The church building was a somewhat dilapidated frame structure, smaller than the current building. Brother Ward and Mrs. Ward were faithful members of the church. They lived in Houston where Bro. Ward worked as a painter. Mrs. Ward grew up in Huntsville. Not long after I opened my practice in 1970, Bro. and Mrs. Ward started coming to Huntsville every Saturday. Bro. Ward spent his Saturdays repainting the church inside and out. Mrs. Ward acquired a barbeque pit made from a 55 gallon barrel. She cooked lunch for Bro. Ward every Saturday. It frequently consisted of barbeque. When the wind was right, the aroma drifted to my office and made my mouth water. Shortly, passers by began to stop and inquire if she would sell any to them. She soon expanded her menu and started selling to the public every Saturday when it didn’t rain. When the barrel pit rusted out, she acquired a more sturdy steel pit. The building the current BBQ is in became empty. Bro. Ward added a covered area to the house and Mrs. Ward moved her pit under the covered area. She could then sell in any weather while Bro. Ward worked on the church. They dedicated all profit to the church. They soon had enough money to start an addition to the church. When Bro.Ward retired, they moved to Huntsville and started selling six days a week. Various church members helped when they could. They moved the dinning area indoors. They expanded the size of the building to what it is today. A lady whose name escapes me, was a high school music director in Houston. When she retired, she started helping full time. She was right out of a Norman Rockwell painting. She was exactly like Moms Mabley. She constantly scolded the customers about all sorts of things. I don’t know a person who was not in love with her.
Eventually they were able to redo the church, adding brick to the outside. These wonderful, giving people are dead now. Heaven must hold a special place for such generous people. Our country is full of such people. People like them do not get the press coverage. I miss them.
Thank you Gerry Etheredge of Huntsville, Texas.
Re your article of 12/10/20: Now is the time for a bowl of Texas red chili
I’m no cook for sure but I can make a fairly decent chili using simple ingredients including whatever kind of meat you would approve of & certainly leave the fat in it. No disagreement there.
Also surprised you would use Wick Fowler because the simple kind I’m talking about seems better to me, but what do I know?
The real problem I have is with the beans – to me as important as any other ingredient & again what do I know? Also they need to be pintos but I’ve had red beans & they’re better than not any at all.
The compromise & should solve the problem (for me it would) is just put the beans on the side. If a true Texan (which I’m not but was born in a town once in the Texas Republic) doesn’t even want to see beans near chili, here’s what a true Texan for sure had to say about pinto beans. Don’t know what he thought about the beans being in the chili but at least on the side he probably would want or sure wouldn’t mind them being there.
Enjoy your articles on barbecue & related items (such as today).
J. Walter Dobie said this:
“A meat eater could live on frijoles and never miss meat. When a Mexican laborer is unable to lift a heavy weight, his companions say that he ‘lacks frijoles.’ As you may deduce, I am kind of a frijole man. On the oldtime ranches of the border country, where I grew up, frijoles were about as regular as bread and in some households they still are.”