A Classic Santa Maria BBQ Story

December 21, 2010

If you are a regular visitor to this blog, you know that Santa Maria Style Barbecue has enjoyed an abundance of good press lately, with stories in the San Francisco Chronicle, New York Times and elsewhere.

But sometimes its also fun to peer into the archives, and to review some of the earlier stories that have helped fuel the popularity of Santa Maria barbecue. One classic is this 2003 story by Jim Gallo in Via Magazine, in which Gallo did a yeoman’s job of chronicling the local culinary tradition from an insider’s perspective. One signature excerpt:

At the Elks Club, to which I was graciously invited for the Friday night “cook your own” dinner…They showed me the club’s impressive barbecue, which occupies its own building and features a 19-foot concrete pit covered by a metal grate raised and lowered by a winch. Some 350 Elks milled around, slapping rib-eye steaks onto one section of the enormous grill. The walls of the bunkerlike structure were lined with cowhide-shaped plaques into which were burned the names of the donors who contributed to the barbecue building fund. “If you’re gonna cook barbecue here, you’re gonna cook it the Elks way or it’s the highway,” said Cadam, who was preparing to cook ribs for 500 people the next night.

Gallo also succinctly captured the timeless and uncomplicated quality of classic Santa Maria Style Barbecue with this description:

Forget the images you may have of intricate barbecue sauces and ingenious smokers because Santa Maria barbecue is deceptively simple, consisting solely of a cut of good meat that is rolled in a mixture of salt, pepper, and garlic salt and grilled over a fire made from coastal red oak.

Retroactive thanks to Mr. Gallo for adding a particularly fine piece to the ongoing chronicle of Santa Maria Style Barbecue!

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