Monday, April 6, 2009

Review: Smoke & Spice

Smoke & Spice

By: Cheryl and Bill Jamison

Pages: 482

Publisher: The Harvard Common Press

Smoke & Spice is sitting on the table in front of me and it is only a bit smaller than RSV Bible that occupied its place a little while ago. Don’t read anything into that. Just a commentary on the size of the book. This is a hefty book. If value for your dollar is a concern, rest assured that you are getting your money’s worth.

This is one of the ‘standards’ in the industry. Book sales for Smoke & Spice is nearing a million copies, and the reasons why are evident. Although enthusiasts of any skill level will enjoy the book, the authors take pains to ensure that they aren’t ‘talking past’ those new to the hobby. The first 15 pages are dedicated to introducing the basics of BBQ. Temperatures, equipment and fuels are all covered.

The rest of the book is divided into sections that handle everything that you would expect and a few things that you wouldn’t. Following the anticipated rubs, pork, fowl and other stand-by’s are recipes and discussions of side dishes, drinks and vegetables. The Jamison’s even devote a significant page count to (brace yourself) salads.

The style of the book ranges from the common to the decidedly uncommon. Basic rubs are found in the same book as Smoked Trout on Apple Slices. 174 pages separate hot dogs from Smoked Duck Pizza. As voluminous as this book as, there is something for everyone without the reader having to worry about a lack of depth.

Smoke & Spice avoids being a dry collection of recipes by including brief (usually under a hundred words) snippets related to the subject at hand. Whether informative in nature or more anecdotal, these side entries help to liven up the book. Also found throughout the book are brief tips, such as how to avoid burning of sauces and ingredient substitutions.

This is an excellent book that I categorize as a ‘resource’. There is a reason for its success. Regardless of where you are on your BBQ journey, Smoke & Spice is a worthy traveling companion. I’m confident that this book will become stain ridden and dog eared as I thumb through it again and again.


~post signature