In its best moments, Real Southern Barbecue reads as half ethnography, half psychological profile. The index lists more than 100 oral history participants across the South, and Byrd does a masterful job in the middle chapters of exploring her subjects’ words in the context of authenticity creation…. I wish I had read Real Southern Barbecue as an undergrad American studies student all those years ago. Byrd’s measured but insightful presentation of oral history does important work in illuminating the voices of a group figuring out how best to survive a new era. By doing so, she reminds her reader that no culture or cultural product, however revered, is ever static. Barbecue plays an important role in Southern culture across lines of race, income, gender, and background; it is a gathering food. As such, its evolution and the evolution of its secret-keepers are reflections of our changing world, for better or for worse.