Douglas and Raichlen.JPG
Tom Douglas (L) looks on in awed amazement at the holy magical wizard light emanating from Steven Raichlen's awesome wizard head.
Steven Raichlen is totally


Steven Raichlen is a Barbecue God, and Nobody Invented God

Douglas and Raichlen.JPG
Tom Douglas (L) looks on in awed amazement at the holy magical wizard light emanating from Steven Raichlen's awesome wizard head.
Steven Raichlen is totally fucking awesome. I used to watch his show BBQ University whenever I came home drunk at midnight and it happened to be playing on PBS. With his glasses and bushy hair, Raichlen looks like a grownup Harry Potter. That's because he is a motherfucking wizard of the grill. He uses a babyback rib for a wand and casts delicious meaty spells on your tastebuds. But don't worry: Steven Raichlen is a BENEVOLENT wizard. The only harm he brings is to your cholesterol level.

Raichlen was in town promoting his new book Planet Barbecue as part of a Kim Ricketts Book Event at the Palace Ballroom. Local hero Tom Douglas sat onstage with Raichlen, asking him things.

The interview got off to a brisk pace. "Where are you from?" Douglas asked Raichlen. "Who the fuck made you barbecue god?" Personally, I was appalled by such crude language! But I was even more offended that Douglas would challenge Raichlen's credentials, even in jest. Steven Raichlen is a mystical warrior. He IS the BBQ god. And nobody, Tom Douglas, made God, so your question is actually one of those logical tricks that you could use to cause an evil supercomputer to commit suicide.

The discussion centered on the primitive nature of grilling. They talked about meat on a stick, a treat which, like meat inside a dumpling or meat with some sort of bread wrapped around it, exists across all cultures. From corndogs to Brazilian churrasco to the things you can buy at Kushibar, EVERY motherfucker in the world loves to impale their meat on something. Just like your mom.

In the third world, muscle meat--steaks, in other words--are typically very tough and gamey because they eat animals that have been pulling a cart or something for many, many years. So instead of grilling a steak whole, they mince it with fat and herbs to tenderize it, then grill it. Apparently every single poor person on earth does this.

Also, the Big Green Egg sucks. Raichlen gave a thumbs- down to the popular line of solid concrete ovoids. A Big Green Egg weighs twenty million tons and is a combination grill and smoker. Raichlen generally dislikes grill/smoker combos. They're like those lame TV/VCR combos in that neither component works very well and they're somehow LESS than the sum of their parts. The Green Egg takes too long to heat up and then stays hot for way too long. It's unwieldy, and to refresh the fire you must take the food and the grills out of the Egg.

Worse still, Green Eggs seem to inspire cultlike fanaticism among the fanboys and Microsoft employees who use them. "If barbecue is a religion," Raichlen told us, "people who own Green Eggs are the Moonies." Oh damn, Green Egg owners: the Wizard just compared your favorite outdoor cooking tool to a religion so silly, its Wikipedia page seems like drunken fratboys rewrote it at 3 am, BUT THEY DIDN'T. Raichlen recommended the Weber Performer instead.

Finally Douglas opened the floor to questions. Most of the questions were pretty pedestrian. One lady asked Raichlen what his favorite cut of meat was. Answer: a simple T-Bone, grilled "caveman style," directly on top of embers. Someone wanted to know the name of the best BBQ joint in Austin. Raichlen rattled off a few names, which I immediately forgot. Some fucked-up dude related an interminably long, meandering story about his friend Bob, who used to cook scrambled eggs in a cast-iron pan, then got busted for something and went to prison. Was it pot dealing, by any chance, that the guy got busted for?

Steven Raichlen is an interesting fellow. He doesn't have the slick televised charm of a guy like Mario Batali. Rather, Raichlen is a cloistered academic perfectionist, a librarian of the grill who, believe it or not, studied medieval cookbooks in college. And apparently PBS pays well: according to Mrs. Ricketts, Raichlen owns homes in Martha's Vineyard and Florida. I wonder how many houses Big Bird owns?

Rating: 7 Green Eggs out of 10

For more Kim Ricketts Book Events, click here

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