BBQ & A: John Shelton Reed and Dale Volberg Reed

[Note: Follow this link–Reeds BBQ&A–for an easier to read .pdf version of the interview.]

Husband and wife writing team John Shelton Reed and Dale Volberg Reed have penned the instant classic on NC Barbecue–Holy Smoke. And considering they have a Jewish son-in-law and lived in Israel, we welcome them into the fold as honorary BBQ Jews (We’re an inclusive people).

The ‘cue-loving couple were kind enough to share some swine with us a few weeks ago and to put up with our questions. And so, without further ado…our first BBQ & A:

BBQ Jew: How many plates of barbecue would you estimate you have you eaten?

Dale: We’ve each probably eaten something between 500 and a thousand plates, starting at Turnage’s in Durham in 1961 or so. That works out to – what? – only two or three hundred pounds.

The Reeds

The Reeds (photo by Paul Dagy)

John: Not all that much, compared to some folks we know.

BBQ Jew: John, when you taught at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, did you find any good barbecue in the Promised Land (perhaps basted with milk and honey)?

John: No barbecue, although we occasionally bought pork chops from a Christian Arab butcher who mostly sold to the embassies.

Dale: Very occasionally, because they were very expensive.

BBQ Jew: What brought you to write Holy Smoke?

John: We were eating barbecue one evening with David Perry, the editor-in-chief at UNC Press, and we discovered that he and I both cooked out of a book called Legends of Texas Barbecue, by a friend of ours named Robb Walsh. Somebody – we really don’t remember who – said, “You know, somebody ought to do something like this for North Carolina.”

Dale: John and I sort of looked at each other and said, “We will!”
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