The One True Barbecue: Fire, Smoke, and the Pitmasters Who Cook the Whole Hog

Rien Fertel (Author)

Product Details

Atria Books
Publish Date
May 30, 2017
5.6 X 0.7 X 8.8 inches | 0.6 pounds
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About the Author

Rien Fertel is a Louisiana-born and based writer, historian, and teacher. He grew up in his family's chain of restaurants across the country, and, after graduating from college, ran a grocery-deli in downtown New Orleans. Hurricane Katrina exiled him to New York, where he started writing about food. His work has appeared in Oxford American, Garden & Gun, Southern Living, Spirit, Saveur, The Local Palate, and many other publications. He holds a PhD in History, teaches in New Orleans, and divides his time between the banks of the Mississippi River and a 100-plus year old church in St. Martinville, Louisiana.


"Some barbecue cooks who still cook whole hogs the old way are just stubbornly doing what their people have always done. Others have studied the tradition and are reviving it in unexpected places. Not surprisingly, all are interesting characters, as Rien Fertel shows us in this fascinating book. A superb documentarian with a wry sense of humor, Fertel also offers some thoughtful observations about authenticity, gentrification, and celebrity. This book should be read by anyone who thinks barbecue is about sticky red sauce."--John Shelton Reed, co-founder of The Campaign for Real Barbecue ( and co-author of Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue
"It is the stories of the pit masters and their predecessors, told with a sympathetic and fastidious eye, that give this hog its wings."--Publishers Weekly
"The One True Barbecue is the whole hog of storytelling-- sharp and witty prose, thoughtful interviews, and deep, humane insights into what makes these pitmasters cook."--Jami Attenberg, author of Saint Mazie
"Crackling with southern culture and history, Fertel's love for barbecue--from the pitmasters to the culinary traditions--is alive on every page. A joy to read and hog heaven for anyone who appreciates the nuances and delights of barbecue at its finest."--Gilbert King, author of Devil in the Grove
"With an anthropologist's eye and a glutton's appetite, Rien Fertel crisscrossed the American South on a pilgrimage to collect the wisdom of the great pitmasters, practitioners of the vanishing art of whole-hog barbecuing. Like all great food travelogues, you'll be tempted to consume this one in a single sitting."--Mark Adams, author of Turn Right at Machu Picchu
"I devoured this book the same way I do good barbecue--in one big sitting with enough left over for the next day. The One True Barbecue takes hog as its subject but is much more: history, sociology, race relations, economics, and land. Read this for a view into the South, then and now. It'll make your mouth water for more."--Chris Offutt, author of My Father, the Pornographer