Sunday, August 20, 2006

Alabama roadtrip blues

On my first day in Alabama, I spent most of the day dealing with lost luggage, so I wasn't able to cover as much ground as I had hoped. The main reason why I prefer to fly nonstop when I have checked bags is to avoid having lost luggage, but Continental didn't load about a 1/3 of the plane's bags (nobody knows why), so I spent hours trying to find it (still hasn't been found) and stocking up on basic necessities like clothes and toothpaste. But the real upset is that I packed my tripod so I wasn't able to do any night shots. But lost luggage is another rant for another day, and at least Continental is giving me $75 a day until they return my bag to me. I needed new undergarments and mascara, so thank you, Continental!

But what about Alabama bbq? Well, it's funny. Something has happened to this state, and I can't quite figure out what's wrong, but the only sport I heard on the radio was the Yankees/Red Sox game, and there are about 10-times more Mexican restaurants than bbq joints in the two places I've explored, Cullman and Decatur. I thought this state was bbq mad, but everyone I talk to could care less, and they'd rather go to either a Mexican place or Applebees.

I was going to start my journey in Tuscaloosa at Dreamland, but since I lost so much time at the airport, I immediately headed north to Decatur, home of Big Bob Gibson's BBQ, a very famous place that has won tons of awards. Well, perhaps I should have been warned when most of the license plates in the parking lot were from out of state. Big Bob's is not all that. I'd even say it's a tourist attraction. And funnily enough, while they have a pig on their sign, the best thing on the menu is the brisket. Big Bob claims they invented Alabama white sauce, so I was eager to try it from the creators. It was surprisingly delicious--very thin, peppery and vinegary, not like mayonnaise at all. And it went well over everything. But that was the problem with the meat: you needed sauce to give it flavor.

I found another bbq place in town, The Smokehouse, that looks like it could be a winner. It's small, doesn't have a pig on the sign, and its stack of wood is almost as big as the restaurant. The only problem was they were closed by the time I arrived. But I'll be back there for lunch. So out of close-by bbq options, I decided to try the Mexican. How could I resist, being such a fanatic? And it wasn't too bad. There was zero spice, but all the staff were Pueblan and they were amused with my horribly accented Spanish. I tried beans, a chimichanga and a cheese enchilada. The beans were the best of the bunch, all smoky bacon goodness. But the chimichanga and enchilada were better than I've had in New York, so I was pleased. How ironic, I fly all the way to Alabama to eat bbq, and I end up eating Mexican. Asi es la vida!

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Harry said...

Howdy again. It's amazing that today I saw this exact same recipe for white bbq sauce in another blog:
So I guess I have no choice to try this odd-sounding recipe for myself.

Homesick Texan said...

I recommend making it fresh. I ordered a bottle from Big Bob before I went to Alabama, and it just didn't have the zing of the real thing.

tri said...

This is Amy from Alabama. I just found your site and emailed you earlier about how much I enjoyed reading it. Later, I found this blog entry about visiting Decatur, AL. That is where I now live. You are so right about Bob Gibsons. It is not all that. When we cook Texas BBQ for our friends, they love it.

I just can't believe you have been here. I hope you will visit again.

Another homesick Texan
Amy in Alabama

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