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Munchies sent shockwaves through the Internet on May 4 when they posted an amateur-looking brisket spread with girthy whole pickles and Kings Hawaiian Rolls and stated that Brooklyn barbecue was taking over the world.
While New Yorkers thought they could declare victory in the decades-old barbecue war between Texas, Kansas City, the Carolinas, and Memphis with a cheap sneak attack, flyover country united en force and absolutely blindsided them like the Knights of the Vale in Battle of the Bastards. It was a total blood bath. But we all need to remember that this isn’t the first time New York has stolen food and declared it their own. New York foodies have a habit of creating “New York style” iterations of foods and then calling it the best simply because it was created in New York. One does not simply smoke some brisket and call it the best barbecue ever. Sometimes smoked meat is just smoked meat.
The most obvious time New York adopted a food, called it their own, and declared it the best was pizza. Of course, full disclosure, I’m a firm believer in the original, Neapolitan pizza, but just because New York modified a recipe brought over by Italian immigrants does not make it better. Not to say New York-style pizza is bad, but it is nowhere near the undisputed best of all pizza. As someone impartial with no skin in the game, I finally tried real Chicago deep dish last year and was blown away. It was really good. Maybe not as good as the first New York-style place my dad took me to as a kid, Pizza Town, but better than Sbarro, obviously New York’s best slice (I kid, don’t put a bounty on my head, damn Yankees).
But still, there’s a totally valid argument that the Neapolitan pizza is the best, as evidenced by Antico. You just can’t screw with a city like Naples, Italy that has actual laws regarding what flour you can use to declare your pizza Neapolitan. And yet the New Yorkers adopted their own version and called it the best, despite Italian immigrants elsewhere coming up with other iterations or just sticking with the original.
And I could even forgive that if it did not show a pattern of behavior on the part of New York to have major little brother syndrome and try to one-up everyone who came up with something they didn’t have. Don’t forget the Coney Island frank. The original Frankfurter sausage, for those who don’t know, was originally imported from Germany to be a street food for working class Americans. Pre-Kaiser Wilhelm Germany, of course. There’s actually a surprisingly intense debate as to where the first American hot dog stand was set up. Some say a German immigrant in the heartland, where a ton of German immigrants ended up. Of course, New Yorkers prefer the story that the first hot dog stand was set up in Coney Island, and that New York hot dogs are the best. Even though the Frankfurter originated in Germany. Convenient.
So first New York stole pizza from the Italians and called it the best. Then they stole hot dogs from Germany and called it the best. Now they’re trying to steal barbecue from the heart of America and call it their own. We cannot allow New York to continually claim what is not theirs and push it as the best. It is a hill worthy dying on. If not, we may see a future where New York steals fried green tomatoes, fried chicken, chili, stuffed avocados, fajitas, and, God forbid, beer, wine, and bourbon. We cannot allow New Yorkers to steal our culture and lazily claim it to be the best just because it’s “New York style.” It is time for the rest of America to take a stand..