Kansas City-based barbecue authority Ardie A. Davis is about as clear-eyed as they come when the subject turns to the barbecue border wars.
Davis is the author of 11 books and is a weekly contributor to The Star’s Chow Town blog. In his most recently published guide — “Barbecue Lover’s Kansas City Style: Restaurants, Markets, Recipes & Traditions” — the Kansas City-based barbecue authority dismisses claims that the South is the birthplace of barbecue as “dogmatic hogwash.”
Barbecue, after all, belongs to the world.
“Everybody knows that barbecue was a routine cooking method in Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe thousands of years before meat fires filled the air with barbecue smoke in North America,” he writes in the introduction. “Thanks to our pitmasters, barbecue has become America’s cuisine, but barbecue wasn’t invented in America.”
American regional barbecue has flourished thanks to indigenous ingredients (an abundant source of meat), fuel (plentiful hardwoods) and the culinary techniques of its self-styled pitmasters both native-born and immigrant.
“That’s one of our strengths: All the groups coming together and bringing their skills with them,” Davis says over lunch at Blind Box BBQ, a Shawnee barbecue joint that was too new to make it into his guide.
When the “hog wings” appetizer drizzled in a Sriracha-honey sauce arrives at the table, Davis deems it just the sort of reverence for tradition — and the freedom to experiment — that American pitmasters are known for the world over.
▪ “Barbecue Lover’s Kansas City Style” (Globe Pequot, $21.95). Watch for The Star’s “We the Pitmasters” series in Chow Town, beginning this summer.