Friday, January 22, 2010

An outsider's look at N.C. BBQ

Again, gotta love Google Alerts. If not for it, I would never have come across this blog piece.

"For (American) Northerners there remains a number of unfounded misconceptions about the South. People are fat. People are rednecks. People are racist. Yes, they are, and some of us above the Mason Dixon line hit those marks too," writes Nick Schonberger. "Despite consistent bad mouthing and classist snobbery one thing is universally acknowledged as better down South — the BBQ."

He gets some names and stuff wrong (Allen & Brothers instead of Allen & Sons in Chapel Hill; referring to ECU as "East Carolina State University"), but the romance is there.

To wit:

An almost mystic pull to down home, no frills, dinning, brought me to North Carolina for a weekend in May. Having toured Texas BBQ and Memphis, and sampled a number of places throughout Virginia, I’d largely ignored North Carolina in the past. Yet, the style is the most frequently copied (and ruined) in my regular BBQ consumption. “Carolina Pulled Pork” sandwiches litter menus at bars and taverns up the Eastern Seaboard, and given this an opportunity to investigate the authentic origins of the ubiquitous dish proved impossible to resist.

... Rolling through North Carolina, it became obvious that while blanket statements can define the taste, technique, and texture, there’s no accounting for individual twists and turns in the make up. ...

.. [w]e gathered remaining strength and hit Greenville. A ghost town. A place where even the locals are quick to tell you to leave. One did. A single toothed proprietor of the town’s Skate Shop. He told me, frankly, that there wasn’t a single good thing to eat within miles. I suppose his lack of teeth made living there possible. The best thing in town was a giant sculpture of a Pirate. The rest was genuinely frightening.

Three days. 8 giant meals. Hundreds of miles driven. The lesson learned, people in North Carolina certainly take BBQ seriously, and certainly place a highly localized stamp on a plate of pork.

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