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.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. It’s one thing to have an out-of-state restaurant serve faux ‘cue, but to have a NC-based chain like Cafe Carolina stoop to serve such suspect swine simply stings.
A similar abomination is available at The Cheesecake Factory, which offers a pulled pork sandwich. Perhaps the most devastating part of the pulled pork sandwich served by The Factory is that typically sensible H. Kent Craig reviewed this sandwich and claims it is good. Say it ain’t so H. Kent! At least The Cheesecake Factory has the decency to serve their sandwich on a regular bun instead of as a panini.
As an aside, it is revealing that these two purveyors of faux ‘cue refer to their product as “pulled pork,” a phrase rarely used to describe NC barbecue, even by recent Yankee transplants. Pulled pork may be an appropriate phrase for pork served in Memphis or elsewhere, but it is not a common term for NC barbecue, which is sliced or chopped rather than pulled off the bone.
If you’ve come across a faux ‘cue product, please leave a note so we can keep tabs on this dangerous epidemic.