2023 BBQ Book Buys recommendation Dr. Conyers
In 2023, the Barbecue book community will have two new books that I am very excited to see on the market and they are not my own. I have already pre-ordered. Two books, Ed Mitchell’s Barbecue with Ed and Ryan Mitchell written by Zella Palmer and From Barbycu to Barbecue written by Joe Haynes books in my mind have to be the two bbq books to buy this year if you want to uncover a lot of truth in barbecue in history and lived perspectives. I am endorsing these two books, because they are perspect-
ives that the bbq book world have not seen previously and so they are very important texts that are both critically needed in the barbecue community but really in the greater book community to understand the United States of America history, past, present, and future especially in regards to race relations and hearing the truth on a subject. Barbecue is just the lens for the look. The real reality is that America can’t handle the truth, or certain populations deem that this will hurt their children’s feelings and so the plus this text will probably never be in K-12 anyway. Well the reality, tell those people parents and grandparents to treat all human being equally and fairly, not based upon what they see or how much money they can make off them, but the content of the character in the heart. The truth also is that other children has have or will have to deal with the ramifications of what those parents and grandparents cause those children that may or may not look like them to go through. As I try to give just a teaser on each book, I am not ranking them #1 or #2, as in my mind, they are two must have books maybe because there is something about Lived Experiences and researching history for what it is, is good to examine but as my therapist says, sometimes you need to read some very light very fictional futuristic books, okay!!
From Barbycu to Barbecue is a necessary history book as it presents the historical contexts so one can analyze the data to evaluate existing barbecue history. A lot of the history of bbq as prior told to 2020, is based on a lot of myths and made up stories built upon a false narrative with the likes of Ned Ward. Then if the stories of Ned Ward are not good enough, just look at some illustrations of barbecue pictures and look at the barbaric nature of the animals being cooked over sticks and in some cases human parts. Author Joe Haynes did the research in this book and it is great that the University of South Carolina decided to published his work. His research is not any facebook or IG work, it has sound research that can stand the test of time. Is his book the definitive history book on barbecue, it is not but it is a must have to bringing us closer and in the top 5 BBQ history to have with what is available on the market. The only voices in a first person account that are missing in the BBQ canon is original voices of the enslaved black and indigenous Americans. The real reality is the best we will ever get from those two groups will be descendants of those people who were recipients of oral history and also lived the experience. There are some texts from the 1800s written by the enslaved but nothing I have found yet that talks about what was occurring in the mid 1600s from the enslaved or indigenous. However, we did get a very good historical text from author Joe Haynes who lived Virginia Barbecue from his era and on Virginia Barbecue which is also another great book.
Ed Mitchell’s Barbecue is a necessary cookbook as it presents history, recipes, culture, and stories from one of the inaugural Black BBQ Hall of Fame Inductees as sponsored ed by Kingsford’s Charcoal of having to live life in America in the Jim Crow South. This book might also be the first of its kind written by a Black Woman, Ms. Zella Palmer the Chair of the Dillard University African American Material Culture and a dear colleague of mine whom have been on my public BBQ journey near the earliest of times and definitely when I started taken bbq as a part academic person. Ed Mitchell’s served his country in Vietnam, but from my understanding it seems that he was going to college and he was drafted due to a technicality that was wrong. This in addition to other memories associated with black people treatment in Vietnam, one would think a soldier would have a better time with equality. I am leaving out many details so you buy the book and read. Then to come back to the USA and then to start doing barbecue and building a barbecue restaurant based upon what he remember bbq to be from his childhood, should be a lesson to all so called pitmasters, that throw the title on a business card. People may question Mr. Mitchell’s business knowledge but no one is not asking why weren’t people like Mr. Mitchell allowed to create thriving businesses without having to worry about them being destroyed due to racism, such as Tulsa’s black wall Street or closer in Durham, NC with the building height of NC Mutual. Also, Mr. Mitchell was really first or second generation into building a multi-generational family business, not having 5 to 7 generations of knowledge in building a business that some families had over 300 years to build. To see Mr. Mitchell’s son Ryan step up into trying to help the family business grow, also a son of the rural south that I can relate to in some ways and in other ways I can’t, is inspiring. To see him working to secure his family’s legacy in name and also in terms of generational wealth is inspiring, because America only believes in making dollars. Hearing the Mitchell’s various stories about bbq, their family, and community and the ongoing fight just to get some of the “American Dream” is partially why the Kingsford’s #PreserveThePit program is important to me, as I see some of what Mr. Ed Mitchell’s is doing in that work and he broke the ground for work I am doing and got the soil ready. Sorry, I am a son of farmer so I have farming references.
The barbecue book community is blessed to have these books coming out in 2023 and more are needed that tell the truth with new authors. Authors in the past that had the opportunity to tell a true story but they decided to continue to proliferate misinformation with lazy research, should not be given a chance to correct to make more money. Willful ignorance is unacceptable. There are few other books in the barbecue world I enjoy, but I am glad to add these two to my collection this year. Some of the other books I have in possession are on my IG at howardconyers_phd, so go find them, don’t ask. Finally, some of you are wondering where my book is presently and I am still writing. I had a lot of personal things on my plate in life and now I am in a good place to continue writing. Writing is hard for me but I have a goal to complete my manuscript this spring. The manuscript in my head. I hope to combined some researched history, lived history, received history and lived from people doing old school southern pitcooked bbq, and an intersection of analysis while trying to bring to life the voices of the enslaved black Americans who toiled those pits as Hidden figures for centuries while perfecting what the USA knows as barbecue. In the meanwhile, buy these books, and tell your friends to buy these books. When my own book is finished, like good barbecue it takes a bit of patience to get it right, but my team of photographers and I have done a lot of work to date. It is coming…. I want to see it, get it off my back and let my publisher have it as my editor gave me a shot to tell my understanding when no one else did. I was rejected many times and because of this I am going to work to make sure my editor looks great, like the boss that she is…