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Black Smoke

A barbecue plate from TRU Colotexmex Bar-B-Que

Pre-order your autographed copy here!

Black Smoke: African Americans and the United States of Barbecue will be published by the University of North Carolina Press in Spring 2021.

What’s the subject of the book?
Across America, the pure love and popularity of barbecue cookery has gone through the roof. Prepared in one regional style or another, in the South and beyond, barbecue is one of the nation’s most distinctive culinary arts. And people aren’t just eating it; they’re also reading books and articles and watching TV shows about it. But why is it, asks Adrian Miller—admitted ‘cuehead and longtime certified barbecue judge—that in today’s barbecue culture African Americans don’t get much love?

In Black Smoke, Miller chronicles how Black barbecuers, pitmasters, and restauranteurs helped develop this cornerstone of American foodways and how they are coming into their own today. It’s a smoke-filled story of Black perseverance, culinary innovation, and entrepreneurship. Though often pushed to the margins, African Americans have enriched a barbecue culture that has come to be embraced by all. Miller celebrates and restores the faces and stories of the men and women who have influenced this American cuisine. This beautifully illustrated chronicle also features 22 barbecue recipes collected just for this book.

Didn’t you say something about needing barbecue research assistants?

You may have seen my appeals for “barbecue research assistants,” and that I’ll be doing occasional barbecue research trips over the next year and a half. I really wish that I could do a continuous, marathon-type, eating excursion across the country, but I don’t think that my employer would be down for that. So, I’ve created this page so that you’ll have an idea of where I’ll be. Feel free to leave comments and suggestions on this page. Please keep in mind that my focus is on African American-run barbecue joints. Though I have the desire, I don’t have the resources.

What’s the best way to get the latest info on your barbecue research?

If you use Facebook, I’ve created a number of city-specific groups on my Soul Food Scholar fan page. That’s where I’ll post a lot of information. You may also follow me on Twitter (@soulfoodscholar), especially using the hashtag #bbqresearch.

Upcoming research trips and barbecue-related events (in chronological order)

The game plan is pretty simple. We all chip in to sample as much of the menu as possible given the size of the group. As we eat, I’ll ask for your thoughts on the barbecue and your community’s barbecue scene.
Upcoming Trips
Past Research Trip Reports:
Natchez, Mississippi–February 29-March 1
Atlanta, Georgia–February 23-26, 2020
Madison, WI–February 11-13, 2020
Hope, Arkansas, February 5-7, 2020
Milwaukee and Racine, WI–December 4-6, 2019
Richmond, VA–November 1-4, 2019
Philadelphia, PA–October 11-15, 2019
Cleveland, Ohio–October 4-7, 2019
Chicago (West Side)–May 4-7, 2019
Las Vegas, NV–March 15-17, 2019.
Kansas City, Missouri–February 28-March 3, 2019
Tulsa, Norman and Oklahoma City, OK–February 15-18, 2019.
North Carolina, South Carolina, and Northern Florida–February 12-16, 2019
Houston, Texas and environs–January 4-7, 10, 2019
Phoenix, Arizona–October, 4-6, 2018.
Memphis, Aug. 3-6, 2018.
Nicodemus, Kansas–July 27-28, 2018, Homecoming Celebration.
Chicago (South Side), July 21-23, 2018.