The barbecue craze has existed in this country for decades, but with the Internet and social media and food bloggers nom’ing away, the movement seems to have been generating more smoke than usual in recent years. And Austin has been central in the revitalized discussion. We used to have to drive to Lockhart or Luling or Taylor for great smoked meat, but now three of the best joints in the country reside in our city limits (Franklin Barbecue, J. Mueller Meat Co. and La Barbecue). Bon Appetit’s Andrew Knowlton named Franklin the best barbecue in the country.
Parade magazine, distributed on Sundays in the Statesman, recently jumped into the conversation by publishing a story by John T. Edge about the history and popularity of barbeuce and polling a bunch of restaurant critics about their favorite local joints. There were many of the usual suspects from around the country, but the part of the Parade piece that seemed to lead to the most controversy was the cover shot. Parade’s photo of a tray of Franklin Barbecue (their #1) very closely resembled the cover shot used by Texas Monthly in their recent issue that declared Franklin best barbecue in Texas and, by natural logical extension, the world.
The weekend publication led to some back-and-forth between Texas Monthly editor in chief Jake Silverstein (who said the covers looked "awfully" familiar) and the powers that be at Parade, who called the cover similarities purely coincidental, apologized and then offered to buy Texas Monthly some barbecue next time they come to town.
What do you think? Coincidence, theft, subconscious creative "borrowing" or no-harm no-foul?
Of note: For his part, Edge stayed out of the controversy (though I thought I saw him Tweet that TM had reason to be upset, though I can’t find that Tweet now), but Edge has had his own beef with the Texas magazine. When Texas Monthly released its Top 50 issue, Edge wrote an open letter to Texas Monthly’s barbecue editor, Daniel Vaughn, in which he called out what he perceived as Texas Monthly’s "bluster-and-preen style of journalism." Edge is the food columnist for the Oxford American and director of the Southern Foodways Alliance.