While there is not set rules for pairing a wood with a meat, here are the basics you will want to know:
"Hickory"- strong, commonly used wood. Good with most all types of barbeque but especially well paired with pork baby back ribs.
"Mesquite"- the Wood of the West. Good with chicken and beef. Little known fact that it's the wood of choice for the Hawaiian Kahlua Pig.
"Red Oak"- the foundation of Santa Barbara Style Barbeque. Don't think of this wood as just good for Tri-Tip, it goes well with most any red meat and game.
"Alder"- traditional wood used for smoking Salmon in the Pacific Northwest. This is the wood of choice for salmon and trout.
"Cedar"- limited application but great nonetheless. While it doesn't translate well to all fish, restaurant quality Cedar Plank Salmon is within every cooks reach.
Chips are easy to come by and can be found locally at Montecito Village Grocery, Vons, and the True Value on Gutierrez. Chunks can be acquired at Home Depot or ordered online from Barbeque Galore.
Tip: Barbeques Galore is a great resource for more exotic woods like Cherry, Apple, Pecan, and Maple. Nearest store is in Simi Valley or order online at www.bbqgalore.com