Educating the world about Texas one Yankee at at time.

Educating the world about Texas one Yankee at a time.

Friday, August 22, 2014

BBQ is not only a Texas tradition, it’s a family tradition

Texas and barbecue are considered synonymous by many. Barbecue is, however, only one of the dishes considered traditionally Texan and it lags behind the king: chili.

That being said, I am going to address barbecue because I am constantly asked, “Hey Janna. You’re a Texan. Where do I go for great barbecue?”

My response almost always is, “Memphis.”

I hate barbecue.

There. I said it. I can’t stand the stuff. I think it tastes like shoe leather slathered in rancid ketchup. When it comes to barbecue, I become a high-maintenance princess and I whine. When asked where I want to go for lunch or dinner, I answer, “Anything BUT barbecue.”

I should turn in my Texas passport.

Truthfully, my taste buds prefer haute cuisine. I’m all about home cooking, but if you chuck words and phrases at me like “demi glace” and “reduction sauce,” you will have my full attention. But barbecue? Just the mention of it makes me throw up in my mouth a little.

My hatred of barbecue stems from the fact that there is so much bad barbecue out there, so I should probably say that I hate BAD barbecue. I have had great barbecue too and I did enjoy it.

Texas Monthly, that yankee-run rag in Austin that touts itself as the National Magazine of Texas, runs a list of top-rated barbecue joints every year. And almost every year, one joint appears in the list: Casstevens Cash & Carry in Lillian.

I am writing about Casstevens Cash & Carry because my cousin, Harold Dan, once owned and ran it. Casstevens is my maiden name. If you meet a Casstevens in Texas, yes, we are related and proudly so. Doesn’t matter how; just know that we are and that’s all you need to know.

I have been blessed to eat Harold Dan’s BBQ and it is everything that New York-inspired publication says it is. Thanks to Harold Dan, I can still call myself a Texan.

Now I must tell you this before we go any further: if you see a barbecue joint with “barbecue” in the name, the food is terrible. The fewer the letters in the name, the better the ‘cue. So it is with Casstevens Cash & Carry. The sign announcing the fare served reads “BBQ” as it should.

I am not endorsing Casstevens Cash & Carry. I am simply stating my experience with the place and bragging about my family. This is Texas; it’s what we do. And you are reading this column for my slanted, biased, Lone Star-centric musings. You have been warned.

I had the pleasure of CC&C’s ‘cue 13 years ago at a family reunion. Harold Dan catered. I gagged silently at the thought of eating barbecue, but because Harold Dan is family, I ate the stuff. After all, blood is thicker than barbecue sauce. I was converted. I became a fan of barbecue. Well, sort of. I only eat GOOD barbecue or “BBQ,” if you will, and CC&C’s more than qualifies.

I spoke on the phone with Angela Ashley, an employee of CC&C. She told me that the family no longer owns the business, but that we’re still involved. Harold Dan is at the store every day and still dispensing ‘cue advice. He is, in uppity business terms, a “‘cue consultant” now, as he should be.

If you don’t mind making the drive, CC&C is located at 11025 E. FM 917, Lillian, TX 76061. Call 817-790-2545 if you get lost and to make sure they are open when you go to visit.

To be fair, I must mention other BBQ enterprises around the state. I am told by my Texas compatriots and friends that Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que in Llano is excellent, though the name makes it suspect. So is Snow’s BBQ in Lexington and Wild Blue BBQ in Los Fresnos. I mention those two because, BBQ is in the name and we all know what that means.

The so-called National Magazine of Texas also promotes some who have all the variations of the spelling: barbecue, bar-b-q, bar-b-que and barbeque.

All that being said, you be the judge and remember what I’ve told you about what’s in a name. As for me, I plan a drive to North Texas in the near future, home of my Texan forefathers, to tread the boards of a sacred place and once again experience the BBQ that has helped me keep my Texas citizenship.

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