This actually isn’t a cookbook. There are no recipes here. But it will drive you pack your bags and make a pilgrimage to Texas for a sampling of the best barbeque in the world. In 2009, Wyatt McSpadden wrote Texas BBQ, a survey of Texas barbeque in brilliant text and photos. Now we have Texas BBQ: Small Town to Downtown, and Wyatt is back in full smoke. This update shows the rapid acceleration of barbeque ideas in Texas. And the maintenance of old and grand traditions.

Yes, there are mighty downtown barbecue places celebrated here in brilliant photos: Micklethwait Craft Meat in an Austin trailer or Heim Barbecue in Fort Worth. But here you will also discover the small gems that dot Texas, like Cooper’s Old-Time Pit BBQ in Llano [population 3,232] and Kreuz Market in Lockhart [population 13,527].

I’m lucky enough to have family in Austin and we’ve gone on barbeque journeys across Texas. I can personally tell you that Cooper’s and Kreuz are marvels.

Large or small, the barbeque temples of Texas offer you exceptional food. Like fine wineries, each establishment has its own terroir. A pit that is decades old and provides a specific and most refined flavor. A hand-crafted metal smoker that simply improves with each year as it is “seasoned” with constant use.

There are 254 counties in Texas, generated in the early history of the state when every ranch or farm needed to be within a day’s journey by horse to the nearest country seat. Nowadays, many of those country seats are quite small. The people have drifted away to the metro complexes of Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Austin and San Antonio. What often remains in those small towns is just a lovely stone country seat, a market or two, and the barbeque joint that draws fans from near and quite far. Park outside one of them and look at the license plates on the cars nearby. America comes to Texas for barbeque.

And if you plan on one of those journeys, then this brilliant book is surely your best guide. Wyatt is a barbeque maven. The photos here cover the meats, the equipment and the people. You see the joy in the pit masters and the intensity as they apply their craft. This is a history of the contemporary barbeque scene that displays coffee table quality. You’ll want to leaf through and ponder the flavors of the blackened meats on display. And you’ll probably want to plot a journey to sample some of these establishments, perhaps just in the downtowns or perhaps in those lovely small and rural towns.

I’ve already had the joy of some key rural spots. I’m going back and I’m using Texas BBQ to plan every bite. So should you.