A couple years ago, I was just some foodie. I had eaten at a million great restaurants all over America and Europe. I even ate at Michael Symon’s Lola before anyone even knew who he was (he went on to win Iron Chef). I’m not trying to brag, but rather offer evidence that I’m not some waterhead with no food experience. If anything, you could call me a gourmand.
However, I had an experience that changed me. My cousin had just moved to Austin, Texas from Los Angeles and my wife and I came to visit him in July, 2010. One day I told Britt (my wife) that she and I needed to go find some good barbecue because that’s the “rage” in Central Texas.
(It’s important to note that this wasn’t the first time I had eaten barbecue in Austin, but I’ll tell you more about that another day.)
Now, I’m from Kentucky where barbecue is pulled pork (maybe mutton) and everything else is smoked feces. I thought brisket was simply colored saw dust, compacted and flavored with beef bouillon. I had never heard of a “beef rib” other than the bones I gave my dog. And pork ribs were chewy masses of fat or braised and piled with goopy, sugar sauce.
Basically, barbecue was tasteless food for idiots.
So on a beautiful summer day, Britt and I set out to eat Franklin Barbecue. Would it be everything the reviews proclaimed? The best barbecue in America?
We showed up to Franklin…and waited. A line for barbecue? Insanity!
After 45 minutes, we were greeted by the smiling face of Aaron Franklin, pit master and owner. He cut off the very tip of a fresh brisket, handed half to me and the other half to my wife.
The moment I sunk my teeth into that brisket, everything changed. I had just tasted the first bite of real Texas barbecue. The smokiness of post oak. The perfect, slightly seasoned bark. The sweetness of the caramelized fat mixed with the beefy fullness of the lean.
After tasting Franklin, I knew that I would never be the same. I was destined to hunt down the best brisket. I had to find the greatest ribs. I must search for new kinds of barbecue, new flavors, textures and experiences.
Thus, Brisket Man was born.