In the spring of 1990 Loyal Jones had taken me to Wilson's on the way to the Appalachian Studies Conference, in north Georgia, and the barbecue was so delicious, and I must have been so effusive about it, that Loyal called the owner over to the table—he knew him—and I repeated my praise, whereupon the owner, Mr. Wilson himself, wrote down the recipe to his barbecue sauce on one of those green-colored guest checks printed on cheap paper. Of course, most of the taste was in the pit barbecuing, not the sauce; but the sauce was excellent, and I was struck by the secret ingredient, which I won't reveal here. Upon returning to Berea College, where I was teaching as a visiting professor at the time, I copied and then carefully handed over this guest check with the recipe to Shannon Wilson (no relation to barbecue Wilson), the special collections librarian and archivist at the Berea College Hutchins Library, for safekeeping; and he put it into an acid-free manila folder. I vowed that if I ever returned to the Knoxville area, I would seek out Wilson’s Barbecue and have another meal.
|Interior, Bradley's BBQ|
Meanwhile, Les discovered that there was a place in Sweetwater called Bradley’s Barbecue, and wondered if that was the same place. I told him about Loyal’s warning, but he thought we should give it a try anyway; and I’m glad he did. Wilson’s Barbecue had gone, but Bradley’s was in the exact same place, with the exact same barbecue pit, and the exact same sauce. The barbecue was as good as I’d remembered it. Maybe Loyal had gone on a bad night.
|Fireplace, Bradley's BBQ|
|Pulled pork barbecue plate, Bradley's BBQ|