When thinking about the story of the two unfortunate ladies in Portland, Oregon who were hounded out of business for the crime of culturally appropriating authentic Mexican tortillas, I suddenly remembered that an even greater example of this sort of thing has occurred. A couple of years ago the Houston Chronicle ran a story about how a Frenchman named Thomas Abramowicz visited Texas and acquired the secrets of the most delicious of culinary delights -- authentic #Texas Barbecue. Surely on the scale of cultural appropriation, this act is as heinous as Napoleon conquering most of Europe, or it might be if people in Texas were as OCD about that sort of thing as people in other states seem to be.

Advertisements
Advertisements

A Frenchman in Houston

The story started several years ago when Abramowicz was living in New York City. He visited Texas with his roommate, a gentleman from Blanco, and had a meal at the Salt Lick barbecue joint near Austin. He fell in love with how the meats were smoked and how barbecue engendered a culture of camaraderie. In subsequent years he visited other barbecue eateries in Austin and Lockhart -- the center of the meat smoking universe.

Fast forward to 2013. Abramowicz quit his job at the French luxury conglomerate LVMH and flew down to Texas to learn the secrets of barbecue. Now, social justice warriors in places like Portland would imagine this nefarious Frenchman bribing pitmasters and stealing recipes in order to culturally appropriate how to make barbecue.

Advertisements

The truth is somewhat wide of that imagining.

Abramowicz first studied under Wayne Mueller, the pitmaster of Mueller Barbecue in Taylor, and then Wesley Jurena of Pappa Charlies Barbecue in Houston. The two men were eager to teach Abramowicz the secrets of Texas barbecue. Jurena even let him stay with his family in his home in Sugarland, a suburb of Houston. The visitor from France learned the culture of barbecue as much as he did the culinary techniques.

The Beast is born in Paris, France

Culturally Appropriating Texas barbecue was a major job for Abramowicz, He bought a custom-made pit and spent three months assembling it, learning how to use it, and transporting it to #Paris. Then he had to find a building where he could use a Texas-style barbecue pit, a culinary tool that was unknown in France at the time. He spent weeks refurbishing the space to accommodate the pit, which included installing a stack that would exhaust the smoke.

How did Parisians take to Texas barbecue?

Parisians are notoriously picky about cuisine, Paris was, after all, where fine dining first came into being back in the 18th Century.

Advertisements

But it seems that the people of Paris have taken to Texas barbecue, by all accounts, with lines out the door to try the brisket and ribs that are coming out of Abramowicz’s new Texas barbecue place, the #Beast, located at 27 rue Meslay, 75003. By all accounts, Paris has a little bit of Texas, serving smoked meats that would hold their own anywhere in the Lone Star State.

Of course, there is a lesson imparted

People who live in Portland, Oregon or elsewhere (a number of college campuses come to mind) who get irate about people who “culturally appropriate” someone else’s food need to get a life, calm down, and go someplace very quiet to think about their intolerant mindset. A Frenchman came to Texas to learn the secret of barbecue. A number of masters of the art willingly imparted their knowledge. He took that knowledge back to his home for his neighbors to enjoy. No one attacked him on social media. No one cried “cultural appropriation!” The lesson is that people in Portland and everywhere else in the world could learn the lesson of tolerance and sharing that is at the center of Texas culture.