Porky’s Pulpit: If You Don’t Like Barbecue, Then Faux ‘Cue

We have addressed the topic of yuppicue on this site before, and today’s post draws attention to a related and equally dangerous form of swine crime. I call this particular bastardization of barbecue “faux ‘cue.” Faux ‘cue includes just about any carelessly loose interpretation of NC style barbecue, but of particular concern are menu items offered at non-BBQ chain restaurants. Imagine the damage done to NC’s culinary reputation when an out of state visitor thinks he is sampling some of our prized local cuisine when he orders this abomination: the Pulled Pork Panini

Imagine a world where this becomes our local 'cue. [photo from Panini Happy website]

Imagine a world where this is our "local" delicacy. Note: this is not the Cafe Carolina panini, just a similarly scary sandwich at paninihappy.com.

I first came across Cafe Carolina’s Pulled Pork Panini–at a safe distance, rest assured–when going to one of the chain’s locations near my house for buy one get one free sandwiches. (Cafe Carolina is only worth a visit with such a coupon in hand.) I reviewed the menu board and, as would be the case for any attentive BBQ Jew, the word “pork” grabbed my attention. I read further and saw the full name of the sandwich, priced at nearly $8, which was described as “carolina style pulled pork with bbq sauce and coleslaw.” Now it’s bad enough for a place like Cafe Carolina to offer a barbecue sandwich, but its adding insult to injury to serve it as a panini. Barbecue has no more business as an ingredient for a panini than a hush puppy has being drizzled with a red wine reduction sauce. Continue reading

Rabbi’s Raves: Barbecue Rhymes

Check out this classic sign from Austin, Texas:

photo by cheryl via creative commons

photo by cheryl via creative commons

Seeing this sign scared the hush puppies out of me. What if I couldn’t eat barbecue one day due to dental issues? I know, I know–it’s too dark a fate to even contemplate. Nevertheless, my next thought was: who’s the closest dentist to Allen & Son?

Mostly, though, this sign warms my heart. As you might suspect, we BBQ Jews enjoy a good rhyme. I grew up patronizing the Yankee Smokehouse, whose owners vowed to “serve no swine before it’s time” (with that apostrophe making a real difference there.)

In our fine state, I can’t think of any barbecue joints pursuing anything approaching porcine poetry. Sure, there’s a few Brew and ‘Cue places. But nothing great out there, even with ‘pork’ lending itself to a rhyme or four. Surely someone has rhymed that with ‘fork,’ and hopefully even ‘spork.’

Yet, after doing a little Web searching, all I could find was this all-too-slick place in California–with its smoked asparagus–”where the fork meets the pork.” But even that’s a touch boring.

So I’m throwing it out there: Can you think of anyone in N.C. Barbecuedom who employs a clever rhyme?

Holy Smoke On Tour

Our colleagues-in-swine John Shelton Reed and Dale Volberg Reed, authors of Holy Smoke, have a couple of book tour stops coming up:

Thursday, March 26, 2009 7:00 PM
Barnes & Noble Greenville
Greenville, NC

Saturday, March 28, 2009 2:00 PM
Barnes & Noble New Hope Commons
Durham, NC

Show the Reeds some BBQ Jew love and drop by, or at the very least buy their book if you haven’t already. Plus, New Hope Commons in Durham is right next to Dickey’s Barbecue Pit, a Texas-based chain we are loathe to visit but would love to hear about (at least they spell barbecue right).

BBQ Jew’s View: Scott’s

 

1201 N. William St., Goldsboro, NC
(919) 734-0711
Scott’s Website
BBQ Jew’s Grade: C
Porky Says: “Pay Scott’s your respects, or just buy a bottle of their sauce.”

A Proud History
I’ve been traveling to Goldsboro for work for the past couple years and finally was able to catch the legendary Scott’s on a day when the dining room was open.  The owners had recently recovered from some health problems that had kept them from running the restaurant for several months.  They are now open a couple days a week for lunch.  Although the barbecue was middle of the road at best (alas, it has been years since Scott’s wood-cooked their ‘cue), I am very happy to have made my way through Scott’s doors.

Scott’s has been selling barbecue for over 90 years, which is an amazing feat in itself and makes it one of the oldest barbecue joints around (and likely one of the longest running family-owned businesses in NC). Many people know Scott’s for its sauce, which is the most widely available of NC barbecue sauces, but may be unaware of the restaurant.  It sits in a modest building right next to a large but unassuming bottling facility, where Scott’s peppery hot vinegar

Alas, these days no wood is harmed in Scott's pit

Tree huggers rejoice, it has been years since any wood was harmed by Scott's pit

concoction is made and distributed.

 The history is palpable at Scott’s, especially with the portrait of founder Rev. Adam Scott on the walls and the fact that his grandkids run the place today.  This kind of family legacy is what NC barbecue is all about.  Rev. Scott was an African-American preacher who started selling barbecue out of his home in 1917.  According to Holy Smoke it was not long before Rev. Scott decided to close in his porch and call his home a restaurant.  In the late-1940s, after a Continue reading

Porky’s Pulpit: Strange Bedfellows

It is a distracting time of year for us North Carolinians, and BBQ Jews are not immune to the fever in the air.  Indeed, March Madness has taken over and leaves precious little time for updating this site.   As you probably know, our state’s reputation for barbecue is perhaps exceeded only by our reputation as a college basketball hotbed (even in a year when, alas, just three NC teams made the NCAA tourney).   But what do barbecue and basketball have to do with one another?  At first glance they may seem to have as little in common as  pork and lingerie, but in fact barbecue 

Sex Sells Pork, or Pork Sells Sex?

Sex Sells Pork, or Pork Sells Sex?

and basketball have much in common.  Below are some similarities I can think of even as I multi-task by writing this post in front of the warm glow of basketball on TV (all while eating some equally warm carry-out ‘cue):

  1. Both barbecue and basketball start with a “b.”  Uncanny, right?
  2. Passion for basketball burns long and slow, much like barbecue cooked over wood coals.
  3. The proverbial Tobacco Road that links Wake Forest to UNC to Duke to NC State covers a large chunk of the territory covered by the NC BBQ Society’s Historic Barbecue Trail.
  4. People argue over the Lexington-style vs. Eastern-style divide just like they argue over Duke vs. UNC (sorry, NC State fans, but your team needs to win a few more games this decade to re-enter the debate).
  5. Politicians and other public figures often refuse to tip their hand about whether they prefer Eastern-style or Lexington-style, UNC or Duke, unless they are pandering.  President Obama covered all bases by playing pick-up hoops with the Tar Heels but having former Duke player Reggie Love on payroll.  Smart guy.
  6. Politicians damn well better at least pretend to enjoy basketball and barbecue if they want to be elected to a statewide office.  If you don’t believe us, just Google “Rufus Edmisten barbecue.”  Lucky for politicians and the general public, most key elections are in the fall and not during prime hoops season, since elections during March would surely mean many political foot-in-mouth incidents, not to mention historically low turnout. 
  7. Barbecue joints almost always have goofy “mascots” in the form of cartoon pig signage, and basketball teams have true mascots.  Sadly, no NC team has a swine-related nickname or mascot.  This fact is disgraceful as a gas-cooked pig drenched with KC Masterpiece.

I could go on, but I am quickly running out of ideas and there’s a close game on TV…

Rabbi’s Rant: Danny’s

Dannys...Interesting Logo

Danny's...interesting logo

There’s plenty to say about this sign from Danny’s Bar-B-Que, but not much to like. Hence, some good natured ribbing:

First off, claiming to have the “Best BBQ in Cary” might just be the most backhanded compliment in the history of mankind. For those not in the know or the state, Cary is our much-maligned center of yuppydom. To be fair, it looks like they have three locations, so they aren’t just in Cary. (It’s OK, we still love you, Cary).

Plus, it’s a little odd that this pig, who we’ll call Danny, is squirting himself with sauce. He’s basically basting himself. What kind of death wish does Danny have? Although I do appreciate that it’s that oh-so-Carolina of squirt bottles.

Also, yeah right–like a pig could hold a squirt bottle. Hello?? We see that he has hooves on three legs, but then–oh, how convenient–Danny has one magical thumb hoof.

Now I’m all for anthropomorphic pigs, but Danny looks almost human. Is there any kind of mythical centaur-like creature that’s a pig with one human thumb?And why do we have to see this mythical pig/man thing’s butt?

Because nothing makes me hungry like the sight of a pigman’s butt. Pass the sauce, you crazy, mythical thumbhoof pigman.

— —

Note: I have not eaten at Danny’s and, hence, can’t comment on their barbecue. I just wish they’d get a new sign.

BBQ Jew’s View: A&M Grill [Now Closed]

OUT OF BUSINESS AS OF JULY 2011!

401 E. Center St., Mebane, NC
919.563.3721
No Website
BBQ Jew’s Grade: A-
Porky Says: “Damn fine swine, well worth your time.”

It’s the Barbecue, Stupid.
I love the A&M Grill, but it’s definitely not for the faint of heart (then again, neither is reading online reviews of barbecue joints so you can probably handle it). The outside is unassuming at best and the interior is not what I’d describe as warm and cozy. But who cares? The barbecue is what matters, and the A&M delivers great ‘cue.

The Reeds hit the nail on the head when we asked them what they look for in a barbecue joint and they told us: “Barbecue… The meat’s what matters, at least as far as I’m concerned. I don’t give a damn about the décor or the ‘ambience.’”  They’re right: if the swine is fine, let’s dine! And if you can’t cook the swine, I ain’t got the time.

Not scenic, but still a glorious sight

Behind the A&M Grill: not scenic but still a glorious sight.

Hard Work Pays Off
In my humble opinion, the A&M serves some damn fine swine. The pork shoulders are wood-cooked the old fashioned way and the A&M’s efforts pay off in the form of succulent, tender, hickory-kissed pork that has plenty of outside brown. The Lexington style dip is thicker than I tend to prefer, with more ketchup than needed, but Continue reading

BBQ & A: John Shelton Reed and Dale Volberg Reed

[Note: Follow this link--Reeds BBQ&A--for an easier to read .pdf version of the interview.]

Husband and wife writing team John Shelton Reed and Dale Volberg Reed have penned the instant classic on NC Barbecue–Holy Smoke. And considering they have a Jewish son-in-law and lived in Israel, we welcome them into the fold as honorary BBQ Jews (We’re an inclusive people).

The ‘cue-loving couple were kind enough to share some swine with us a few weeks ago and to put up with our questions. And so, without further ado…our first BBQ & A:

BBQ Jew: How many plates of barbecue would you estimate you have you eaten?

Dale: We’ve each probably eaten something between 500 and a thousand plates, starting at Turnage’s in Durham in 1961 or so. That works out to – what? – only two or three hundred pounds.

The Reeds

The Reeds (photo by Paul Dagy)

John: Not all that much, compared to some folks we know.

BBQ Jew: John, when you taught at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, did you find any good barbecue in the Promised Land (perhaps basted with milk and honey)?

John: No barbecue, although we occasionally bought pork chops from a Christian Arab butcher who mostly sold to the embassies.

Dale: Very occasionally, because they were very expensive.

BBQ Jew: What brought you to write Holy Smoke?

John: We were eating barbecue one evening with David Perry, the editor-in-chief at UNC Press, and we discovered that he and I both cooked out of a book called Legends of Texas Barbecue, by a friend of ours named Robb Walsh. Somebody – we really don’t remember who – said, “You know, somebody ought to do something like this for North Carolina.”

Dale: John and I sort of looked at each other and said, “We will!”
Continue reading

Porky’s Pulpit: Name Hall of Fame

There are many great, colorful names among the hundreds of barbecue joints across North Carolina. Below are my inaugural class of Name Hall of Fame inductees, along with my reasons for inducting them.  Who else deserves to be added to the Hall?

B’s – One letter says it all.  B's

Blue Mist – Barbecue poetry, the name alone makes me hungry.

Bum’s Restaurant – Something about the pairing of the word “bum” next to the classy-for-’cue word “restaurant.”

Flip’s – Just sounds right.

Fuzzy’s – Easy to love, hard to forget.

Hog Heaven – Sure, it’s cutesy but someone had to take advantage of this great phrase.

Lexington #1 – Brilliant in its simplicity. Better yet, it’s nickname is “the Honeymonk” after owner Wayne Monk .

Pink Supper House – Elegant and a little bizarre, I like it.

Prissy Polly’s – Named after the founder’s mom. Cutesy but catchy.

Short Sugar’s – Unforgettable.

Snook’s Old Fashion – Sounds like just the type of place I want catering my funeral. Then again, it is hard to beat Lexington, NC for funeral homes that respect barbecue.

The Barbecue Center – Indeed it is. A great name for a vintage joint on Lexington’s main drag.

Finally, it is worth noting that I have banned the over-the-top name Butts on the Creek in Maggie Valley from this list for trying too hard.  This type of name may be what it takes to survive in the tourist town of Maggie Valley but the Name Hall of Fame must maintain some ethical standards. 

Whatchamacallit?

In addition to invoking an underrated Hershey’s candy bar, the title of this post refers to the numerous names for the divine swine: Barbecue, Barbeque, Bar-B-que, BBQ and so on.

As you no doubt have experienced, there’s a bit of a spelling free-for-all in hog heaven. The nomenclature can be puzzling. Heck, even we BBQ Jews are confused. As you can see, we roll with ‘barbecue’ in our posts, but ‘BBQ’ in our URL. What gives?

photo by Tadson via Creative Commons

photo by Tadson via Creative Commons

We chose ‘BBQ’ for our Web address mostly because we thought it looked cool. And it’s easier to type into a browser, which we’re sure our legions of fans will be doing quite frequently. So, yeah, you’re welcome.

We like to say that Barbecue puts the ‘Bar’ in Bar Mitzvah. On those grounds, we eliminated ‘BBQ’ as our primary spelling. And while Bar-B-Q and ‘Bar B-Q‘ were tempting, we deemed it too unorthodox (i.e. reform).

What about ‘Bar-B-Que,’ then? On the plus side, it’s even closer to Bar Mitzvah than ‘barbecue.’ But all those hyphens? Way too annoying to type. Plus, it makes me think of Barbie. And do you capitalize the second and third syllables? Bar-b-que? bar-b-que? Too many questions, let’s move along.

We use the ‘c’ instead of the ‘q’ because ‘barbeque‘ looks a little off. Plus, those French orthological roots pull pork in a different direction than we’d prefer. Sure, ‘que is fun to say and write. But so is ‘cue, and it doesn’t bring any English/Spanish confusions (¡Que delicioso ‘que, amigo!).

This discussion makes BBQ Jew think of the whole Hanukah vs. Chanukah vs. Hannukah vs. Hanu-Q-A thing. Only, that spelling debacle makes sense because the word is a Hebrew transliteration. What’s our excuse?

We’re curious: which spelling do you prefer and why?

Be honest, you won’t hurt our feelings.

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