Tuesday, June 12

Meet the Barbecue Research Team

As you might imagine, our oral history archives are laden with barbecue content that we're eager to share with you, our readers. During the spring semester, we were lucky to have two graduate student research assistants to help us unearth the choicest nuggets of barbecue history and lore from the Southern Barbecue Trail. Meet Susie Penman and Roy Button.
Native Mississippian Susie Penman (pictured above at Central BBQ in Memphis) just received her degree from the MA Program in Southern Studies at the University of Mississippi. Her thesis, "Cracker Barrel's Culture: Exporting the South on America's Interstate Exits" was a co-winner of the Lucille and Motee Daniels award for the best thesis in Southern Studies.

By way of a barbecue-themed introduction, Susie says, "Despite growing up in a family for whom the term 'barbecue' meant "to grill," I found myself working a part-time job at the counter of a beloved Jackson, Mississippi, barbecue joint. It was there that I discovered pulled pork, though I overindulged and some desolate years passed before I was able to appreciate barbecue again. Now my favorite local barbecue is B's in Oxford, where the barbecue chicken is so good that I risk overdoing it on that, too. But I don't think it's going to happen."

San Francisco native Roy Button just finished his first year in the Southern Studies MA program. He tells us, "My barbecue of choice is Kansas City–style, which is prevalent in California. Tri-tip is also common in the Northern part of the state, where I'm from. I once ate an entire rack of ribs AND a barbecue sandwich at the Rendezvous in Memphis. It was my first time there—I had to make the most of it. Like Susie, my favorite barbecue in Oxford is B's in the Skymart BP station. I usually order a barbecue sandwich or the smoked turkey leg."

A big thanks to Roy and Susie for their crack research skills. We couldn't have gotten ready for the Summer of Barbecue without them!