What is American food? Some may say that American food is hot dogs, hamburgers, and apple pie. Others will beg to differ, saying that true American food is barbecue. The tastes of Memphis barbecue can be traced to the roots of the people who have lived their entire lives in Memphis. The taste represents the city and its people, in a way that only food can. After the troops came home from World War II, small restaurants began to pop up in the low income areas of Memphis. A few of these restaurants are still around today and some have been able to parlay their local success to become a national chain.
Types of Memphis BBQ
There are two ways to go about preparing Memphis style barbecue. You can apply a dry rub or a wet rub. A dry rub is when you mix a combination of herbs and spices to create a “rub” for the ribs or other meat you are going to prepare. During the preparation, you will rub the mixture of herbs and spices on the meat, then slow cook the meat in a pit. By slow cooking the meat, it will become tender and melt in your mouth.
The alternate way to prepare your meat is with a wet rub. When you apply a wet rub to your meat you will have to apply it before the meat is cooked, while the meat is being cooked, and after the meat has been cooked. Traditionally, a wet rub for Memphis BBQ is tomato based. Like the dry rub, the meat should be slow cooked over a low temperature for a few hours.
If you are ever in Memphis, there are still a few of the original restaurants around. One of the restaurants you should check out is Jim Neely’s Interstate Bar-B-Que. Jim Neely’s Interstate Bar-B-Que has been around as long as anyone can remember. The small restaurant is famous for their wet and dry ribs.
The second restaurant you should check out is Neely’s. While the family name has been carried on, Neely’s is a different establishment than Jim Neely’s Interstate Bar-B-Que; I know it is a little confusing. Jim Neely’s nephews opened this restaurant. They were able to create a powerful brand out of their family name and open locations outside of Memphis as well. They were even able to parlay their success and history in the food business into a show on The Food Network called Down Home With The Neelys.
The third restaurant you should save some room for is Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous. For Rendezvous, it all started in a basement down an alley in Memphis. Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous is known for their friendly staff and their dry rub ribs. Rendezvous has become sort of a landmark for the city of Memphis; the city council even tried to rename the alley way it resides on after the restaurant!
If you love barbecue food, you should plan a trip to Memphis. Memphis barbecue is not only a staple of the city and the state of Tennessee, but a staple of American food. If you are a cook, you should look up some recipes and try to recreate the Memphis style ribs yourself!