Friday, May 23, 2014

The Weekly Open Thread: On Barbecue, Irony and Reading Comprehension

Posted By on Fri, May 23, 2014 at 9:41 AM

Frankly, Im on the fence about this whole kerfuffle.
  • "Frankly, I'm on the fence about this whole kerfuffle."
In case you haven't noticed, barbecue has been trending here on Bites. The 55-gallon grill's worth of smoky bloggage all began innocently enough when Steve Cavendish reviewed Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint last week. And I'm beginning to wonder if perhaps Cavendish is clairvoyant.

Consider these opening words from the review, dated May 15:

Barbecue is tribalism.

It is meat, uniting us in smoke but dividing us by sauce and animal. It is an argument wrapped in preference, daring us to state our allegiance to a region, the almighty pig or a type of condiment.

Who knew that just a few days later, Travel + Leisure would name Nashville the No. 1 barbecue city in the country? And who could have foreseen the firestorm that would ensue, bringing Cavendish's hypothesis to life before our very eyes?

Of course, the whole brouhaha became exponentially more entertaining when Cavendish poured some more sauce on the half-rack, so to speak, with this obviously tongue-in-cheek taunt to the Bluff City. Just in case it wasn't clear enough that Cavendish thought Travel + Leisure was batshit crazy for naming Nashville the barbecue Valhalla, he added the following postscript: "P.S. We have pitched Travel + Leisure on a number of lists for which Nashville is surely No. 1 as well, including 'Best Blues Town,' 'Best Jewish Delis,' 'Best Spring Break Destination' and 'Best NBA City.' "

Regardless, on Bites and on Facebook, Memphis defenders came out of the woodwork to take Cavendish to task. Clearly they didn't realize that he was dissing T+L, not Memphis. How they could have failed to comprehend that is puzzling, to say the least.

So here are my questions:

• Does anyone in their right mind really think Nashville is a better barbecue town than Memphis, let alone best in the country?

• Are Memphians especially thin-skinned, or would Nashville commenters display similar outrage (and poor reading comprehension) if a Memphis blog made a similar tongue-in-cheek post about their city being named the country music capital?

• Does anyone get irony anymore?

• Does the complete lack of reading comprehension displayed by so many Internet denizens alarm anyone about the future of mankind?

• And what else is on your mind?

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