Since I was a little boy sitting in a barbecue shack, linoleum tiles chipped and curling beneath my feet, each wall painted a different color, voices raised in a shout over the rapid fire chop, chop, chop of a cleaver on a wood block, I have loved barbecue. Not just a sandwich or a stack of ribs, but the - run down your elbow, sop it off your plate with a piece of bread - barbecue sauce. No matter what country, state, county, parish, town or dirt road I'm driving down, if I see a place that serves barbecue I have to give it a try. It's my duty. The sauces I've tried have ranged from bland and barely recognizable to I - don't - care - if - this - is - a - new - shirt, pile it on. Then comes the hard part. The wheedling, begging and pleading to get them to part with the recipe. A recipe that is always considered a family heirloom, a treasure that speaks of kin folk and heritage, and not lightly parted with. Many of them are award winners. As they hand you the recipe, scribbled on the back of an envelope or a sheet of notebook paper, they always swear that it's the very best you'll ever taste. That is why there is such a wide range of sauces in this book. Tastes vary. Some recipes may cause your nose to turn up in disbelief, others may bring tears to your eyes as you anticipate ecstasy. If you can't find one that's just right for you, experiment. Have fun. Add or subtract ingredients as your nose and taste buds guide you. Included in these recipes is one for my own sauce. It was seven years in the making and has developed a small following that ranges from New Mexico to Germany. I have been approached by a commercial developer, but I fear that the flavor would be destroyed if my sauce was bottled by a large conglomerate. I urge you to try it.