It's summer. Time to follow the sweet smoke that drifts from smokers and grills in rural Texas, Alabama and North Carolina all the way to the busy streets of Brooklyn and Chicago.
The basics are the same everywhere. Slabs of meat and poultry spend hours in giant metal ovens until, stained by heat and smoke, they are sliced, chopped and pulled, served with an assortment of salads, sides of steamed, braised or roasted vegetables and slices of white bread or chunks of corn bread. The application of barbecue sauce--sweet, tangy or tongue-burning hot--completes the experience.
Something about barbecue creates fanatics.
Diners with sticky fingers, wave their bones in the air as they debate whether or not dry rub by itself or a combination of dry rub and sauce brings out the best flavors in the meat.
Hunched over a plate of pulled pork, people can argue for days about how long to smoke, which sauce is best (sweet and hot and thick or thin with a vinegary bite), and what k…