In a cool story on regional American cuisine, recommends Santa Maria Style Barbecue as one of the top 10 culinary traditions for its readers to experience in 2012.

The Forbes piece pursues the premise that while many regional culinary styles have become popular nationwide, there are still foods that are best eaten in their place of origin.

Contributing writer Larry Olmsted notes, “While it (Santa Maria style barbecue) has been around for a century and a half, it has never made national inroads like the other styles, and remains limited to California’s Central Coast, namely the Santa Maria  Valley and Santa Barbara County, but here it is ubiquitous, found in restaurants every day, and on weekends at outdoor charity fundraising barbecues.”

Olmsted does a fine job of explaining the difference between Santa Maria Style Barbecue and its more recognized cousins , such as the barbecue styles of the Carolinas, Memphis, Kansas City and Texas. “Unlike the other regional styles,” Olmsted says, “Santa Maria barbecue is always cooked over an open flame, not in a closed smoker, always burning locally native California red oak.”

He goes on to praise the The Hitching Post restaurant with a nod to the local wine country. Thanks to Larry Olmstead and for naming Santa Maria BBQ as one of the nation’s top regional food experiences!

P.S. In no particular order, following is a list of the top 10 regional cuisines mentioned in the Forbes piece. Santa Maria Valley is delighted to be in such company!

-New Orleans: Muffeletta Sandwich
-Salt Lake City: Crown Burger
-Kansas City: Burnt Ends
-St. Louis, MO: St. Louis Pizza
-Coastal South Carolina: Shrimp & Grits
-Rhode Island: Clam Cakes
-Iowa: Loose Meat Sandwich
-Santa Maria, CA: Santa Maria Style Barbecue (Hear, hear!)
-Miami Beach: Stone Crab Claws -Chesapeake Bay: Blue Crabs