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Hays Free Press
Kyle, Texas
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January 2, 2013     Hays Free Press
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Page 4A NEWS Hays Free Press January 2, 2013 Brisket or mutton? Sides or bread? Working-class or celebrity barbecue? BY BETH CORTEZ-NFVB. Reporting Texas eOple line up for three ours to pay $16 a potmd r brisket at Franklin Barbecue in East Austin. The place is famous, having been featured by the likes of Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern on national television. Fawning reviews by newspapers and Texas Monthly haven't hurt. One street over, at Sam's BBQ on East 12th Street, there's rarely a line. The brisket is $10.25 a pound. Sam's isn't fa- mous, though it often features in the "best of" awards in the local alternative newspaper. Locals say the brisket is as good as Franklin's, but at Sam's the mutton is the thing. Barbecue critics can argue for hours over which cut of meat is best where, but they seem to agree that there are two kinds of barbecue con- sumers: the media-driven crowd and those who make their own way without regard to what Bourdain says. In Cen- tral Texas, the media buzz has centered on places like Frank- lin, the Salt Lick in Driftwood and Kreuz Market in Lockhart. "Barbecue issues sell maga- zines. They sell newspapers. They drive viewers to blogs," says Elizabeth Engelhardt, edi- tor of the book "The Republic of Barbecue," and professor of American studies and women and gender studies at the University of Texas at Austin. "People can't quite resist rank- ing and devoting an issue to what Texas loves best." That rugged little joint off the two-lane might smoke the best brisket anywhere, but the critics can't be everywhere. Places like that appeal to Mar- vin Bendele, executive director of Foodways Texas, an Austin- based group that promotes Texas foods. "I don't believe in that kind of stuff," Bendele says of barbecue rankings. "My phi- losophy on barbecue is, you just got to know when to go, at what time, and it's probably PHOTO BY BETH CORTEZ-NEAVEL The beginnings of a brisket sandwich on whole wheat bread at Sam's BBQ on E. 12th Street in Austin. Next come the onions, pickles and homemade 'cue sauce. going to be a good meal." Probably; but not necessari- ly. Mike Sutter, a food journalist for restaurant review site Fed Man Walking, says published reviews do create a barbecue hierarchy; but "our presence raises the level of accountabil- ity restaurants have for their food and service, and that can only make things better for the consumer." Sutter says critics help the public spend its money well among the restaurants that are reviewed. He's less confident about the value of online re- views written by just anyone. "Yelp, Chowhound and oth- er citizen criticism sites have opened the doors for anybody to register an opinion. But their anonymity leaves their integ- rity an open question," he says. "On the other hand, a bylined reviewer who doesn't accept free food and writes about restaurants in a trained, reli- able voice is as indispensable as a friend whose opinions you trust." Brian Mays, the pit master at Sam's, regards such con- siderations as noise. The only thing that matters, he says, is how you cook the meat. Mays, who's worked at Sam's since he and his late father opened shop 36 years ago, has never advertised his mutton or any- thing else, and doesn't have an online presence. The mutton speaks for itself, he says. 'As long as you're cooking with love, you're all right," he says. Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew in North Austin opened this year and is slowly garnering a loyal crowd. The beef ribs and chocolate banana pudding are among the most ordered items. Owner Shane Stiles says restaurant owners have a love-hate relationship with the media. "Everyone says, 'I'm a barbecue connoisseur,'" he says, but the real expert is the customer that comes in twice a week to order a favorite cut of meat. "He might go home and get back on his tractor. He might go back and start fixing a motor. But the last thing he's ever gonna do is go get on the Intemet and write an article about it." Critics and celebrity aside, Franklin general manager Ben Jacob sounds like the other pit masters when he talks about how people should approach barbecue. "That's your own flavor, your own palate. You have to make that decision on your own," he says. "You should go try them all and make your own deci- sion. It's a good excuse to go eat a lot of meat." Still want to see what the critics think? Scrumptious Chef's site has a barbecue sec- tion. Fed Man Walking lists its top 10 Austin barbecue joints. Full Gospel BBQ rates barbe- cue all over Texas. And Texas Monthly has a barbecue page on its website. Somber anniversary reinforces importance of traffic laws SUBMII'rED REPORT As hard as it is to believe, the last day in which there were no fatalities on Texas roadways was 12 years ago - Nov. 7, 2000. That means since this date, at least one person has died every single day on a Texas highway or road- way; bringing the total to 41,252 fatalities - almost the size of the population in San Marcos. "One fatality on a Texas road- way is one too many; and to see as many as eight or 10 in a single day is unacceptable," said Phil W'flsofi, Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) execu- tive director. '?s we acknowl- edge these tragic statistics, we are asking Texans to please help us make our roadways safer." In 2011 alone, Texas experi- enced 3,048 traffic fatalities. The majority of these resulted from drinking and driving, not using seatbelts, or driving while dis- tracted. Here is the break-down from last year's statistics: 28.9 percent of people killed in fatal crashes were not wearing seatbelts 34.9 percent were attributed to drinking and driving 13.4 percent were associ- ated with people being dis- tracted (i.e. texting and driving). TxDOT continues to partner with the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) and local law enforcement to protect all driv- ers on our roadways. "Texas state troopers are ded- icated to protecting the public and they will continue working to identify and remove danger- ous drivers from our highways," DPS Director Steven McCraw said. '1 urge all drivers traveling in our state to do their part by driving responsibly, eliminat- ing distractions, adhering to the posted traffic signs and ensuring everyone in the vehicle is buck- led up. Together we can reduce the dangers on our roadways and improve safety for every- one." In an effort to educate drivers on the Big Three dangers, Tx- DOT has begtm displaying the number of fatalities to date on dynamic message signs along Since Nov. 7, 2000, at least one person has died every single day on a Texas highway or roadway, bringing the total to 41,252 fatalities - almost the size of the population in San Marcos. Texas highways. In 2012, there have been more than 2,545 fa- talities on Texas roads. Each month, this number is updated and drivers can see it, along with a message on how to drive safely. Additionally; TxDOT continues to educate drivers through vari- ous seasonal campaigns that focus on the following simple steps for safe driving: Pay attention. Buckle seat- belts. Put phone away. Left lan for passing only. Never drink and drive. Obey all traffic laws. 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