“Rodney Scott’s World of BBQ: Recipes and Perspectives From the Legendary Pitmaster,” by Rodney Scott and Lolis Eric Elie has the distinction of being one of the first cookbooks written by an African-American pitmaster and published by a major US publisher.
There is something celebratory, sad, and deeply troubling about being one of the “first” African-American pitmasters that has been published by a major US publisher. It’s a clear indication that our people have been cheated and mistreated across the spectrum. Unfortunately, we still live in a world run by White men, so it should not be a surprise that other pitmasters, who are White, — Jamie Purviance, Bobby Flay, Steven Raichlen, and Meathead Goldwyn have been making a lot of money in focusing on the art of the barbecue.
And like most things in this country, these White authors have leaned heavily on the African-American food and barbecue culture, and know-how.
Rodney Scott is big-time, a James Beard Award-winning chef and co-owner of three Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog BBQ restaurants in Charleston, Birmingham, and Atlanta. Mr. Scott knows what he’s talking about and we’ve had to wait, so long for voices like his, that it makes the publication of this book, sweeter.
Scott was born with barbecue in his blood cooking his first, whole hog, a specialty of South Carolina barbecue when he was just 11-years-old. At the time, he was cooking at Scott’s Bar-B-Q, his family’s barbecue spot in Hemingway, South Carolina. Now, four decades later, Scott owns one of the country’s most awarded and talked-about barbecue joints, Rodney Scott’s Whole Hog BBQ in Charleston.
“Barbecue is the most universal language of food, and even though I don’t speak any language but English, I’ve been able to use my food to communicate with people all over the world. “ — Rodney Scott
One of Scott’s mottos — “every day is a good day” is printed on some of the pages, in the front of his book, a wonderful reminder of how he lives his life and a suggestion that we reflect on those words, as we view our own lives.
“The happiness I get when people are enjoying my food is one of the best feelings I can image,” Scott shares on page nine. The writing style resembles a good gumbo, filled with tradition, personality, interesting and smart observations, technique, and lots of stories, all seasoned with joy.
Scott takes time to share what it was like growing up African-American in the South.
Let’s be frank. If you are a pig and you live in the South, your days are numbered. Scott talks about his fact in the book saying “One constant in the South is that everywhere you go, pork is king” and is treated like royalty, and how it’s cooked is part of what makes this book special.
For example, his first recipe is how to build a barbecue pit out of cinder blocks (56-by-88-inch) which are large enough to cook a whole, butterflied hog. Scott wants the reader to get it right, and the instructions are specific, down to the number of cinder blocks, the lengths of rebar and welded wire mesh (chicken wire is not recommended), along with the necessary hammer, angle grinder, and safety goggles.
There are so many incredible recipes it just boggles the mind with many that are not barbecue related like his fried chicken recipe that’s in the “On The Stove” section. And in the “Snacks, Salads, and Vegetables” section pay attention to hush puppies and a salad of marinated tomatoes and onions. For those that enjoy a delicious cocktail, he’s offered up several in the “Cocktails” section with one selection adding dehydrated lemon peels that have been in a low-temp oven for a couple of hours, and one that added Scott’s signature barbecue sauce with a bit of honey in it.
Scott also provides the recipe for Rodney’s Sauce and The Other Sauce. Rodney Scott’s World of BBQ is a tremendously entertaining and informative book on the art of barbecue and more, and don’t forget the pitmasters motto —Every Day Is a Good Day!