There are a bunch of books available that tell the story of BBQ and the men that have cooked it through the years, but Southern Belly by John Edge is a little different. First of all he covers a lot more than just BBQ joints, reaching back to plate lunch type restaurants that have always been a staple in Southern life. Secondly, if he didn't actually visit every one of these restaurants, he can sure fake it. Most of the restaurants he profiles in NC I've been to myself and he nails their description and flavor perfectly. There are a few other writers that have profiled BBQ restaurants in this state where even the owners of the restaurants doubt if the author ever really visited, their comments were so far off the mark. Southern Belly also avoided the tourist trap type establishments that frequently get reviewed/praised by some other writrs. He visits only real restaurants that make their living serving locals, and many are still owned by the original founders family.
But anyway, Southern Belly reads like a fast moving trip down history lane. It has a few recipes, but this book you'll buy for the stories. It's well worth looking into if you appreciate the way folks eat in the South and why.
It's only about $10 from Amazon, and it's also available new from Amazon merchants for $1.
EDIT BY MODERATOR DONNA: This book is available at Cookshack's Bookstore.