i am confused by your offence at my observations. if americans have such great taste, how do you explain fast food, and the insane number of nasty buffet chains? many, many nasty restaurants do very well based solely upon the portion-to-price ratio, because americans equate huge piles of food with quality.
processed foods are bad for us, and made with crap ingredients, but there is no end to the variety of garbage foods on the market: more every day. i was in the opening crew of an Olive Garden in Encinitas, CA, and i know exactly what is in their food: did you know that most of it comes from boxes and bags? it is relatively low-quality, seriously bad-for-you food, and they make piles of money. the best things there are the soups, because they are made fresh, from fresh ingredients, all day long, but that "alfredo" sauce is from a mix--that;s why it is gross the moment it is no longer hot. true sauce "al Freddo" has only butter, young Parmigiano Reggiano, salt, and pepper--no cream, no nutmeg...and definitely not from a mix.
as to Pappas being a chain--so what? it is a family-owned company, that began as a refrigeration company. they served restaurants, and decided they could do at least as well as those they worked for, and they were right. Dot Diner is the best diner in Houston, and there is only one--is that better? that too is a Pappas property.
i was a professional chef, and i think about food differently than most people do, because i know how it is made. ATK has far more recipes than oven-barbecued brisket, and a brief scan of the linked page reveals that truth. i do not always agree with their opinions, but the reality is that they know what they are doing.
the comment about cowboy couture was relevant to people not knowing what to expect, and not understanding the difference between reality and mythology. the Bush clan preferred Otto's, and that was based in familial loyalty--Otto's was dry, and nasty, and no longer exists at all; Goode and Co. is also very dry, tough, and flavourless, but that company thrives.
i honestly do not understand why my observations offended you. as a psychologist, i find it interesting.
nope--it's not supposed to be like that. unfortunately, i have discovered that most americans have no idea what constitutes good food in general--the majority believe that quantity = quality, and when there is a choice between the two, quantity is the only sane choice.
i have spent dozens of years in texas, and in houston (one of the great american cities for wonderful restaurant experiences) there are only a couple of good barbecue joints, the very best being Pappas' Barbecue. i honestly believe a great deal of the problem is people from other regions, and likely other countries who (like yourself) do not know what to expect--like the people who come to texas, and are genuinely shocked to discover that not only is dallas a tiny little berg in comparison to houston, but almost no one here ever rides horses, and the majority of us never come in direct contact with ranch animals anywhere outside of the houston Livestock Show and Rodeo (a texas tradition i hate, and pray every year for it to stop--BTW); almost no one has a drawl, and almost no one owns either cowboy boots, nor a stupid cowboy hat.
briskets have two layers of meat, and the top layer has more fat than the bottom, which makes it tricky. a skilled chef can and does prepare a barbecue brisket that is not dry and tough--that is the result of a very poorly trained, and unskilled grill master. another confusing point is sauces--some regions do not use sauce by tradition, but newcomers expect it, so it is served.
i have no doubt that you have had a hard time finding brisket that is not nasty; i can only suggest you do lots of research, and perhaps learn to do it yourself, so that you can really impress your in-laws, next time!
i did a quick search, and found: http://texasbbqposse.blogspot.com/2010/05/cooking-perfect-brisket-louie-mueller.html (which i am not familiar with);
and these people research how best to cook everything for a living: http://www.americastestkitchen.com (i imagine they can help!) this is what i found in their site from the term "barbecue brisket"--http://www.americastestkitchen.com/se....