Porky’s Pulpit: Say It Ain’t So, Jared

I recently spent a weekend in our nation’s capital visiting friends.  The visit was going well until I exited a Metro train, headed up the escalator and encountered this horrifying sight:

What's wrong with this picture? Everything.

There are a many things wrong with the image above:

1) Despite the food styling, flattering lighting, airbrushing and god knows what else this sandwich was subjected to in preparation for its big showcase, it looks inedible.

2) Only a fool would pour gloopy barbecue sauce on top of pulled pork. Then again only a fool would order a BBQ sandwich at Subway. It makes the gray, lifeless Philly cheese steak Jared’s benefactors hawk look almost appealing.

3) Only someone out to harm our nation’s vital interests would place pork barbecue on top of lettuce on a sandwich.  The Department of Homeland Security should stop frisking infants and the infirm and focus instead on this serious threat to America.

4)  A barbecue sandwich where the bread is a sub roll? No thanks.

5) The tagline “Get Pulled In” is more of a threat than an invitation, particularly when paired with the BBQ sauce bullseye/vortex pictured to the right of the sandwich.

I could go on but you catch my drift.  Could it really be as bad as it looked?  As the nation’s most fearless North Carolina-based Jewish barbecue journalist, I knew I could not rest until I hunted down the Abominable Pulled Pig in its natural habitat.  How else would the public be made aware of this imminent threat to the American way of life?

On the way back home from D.C. I made a pit stop in Rawlings, the scuba capital of central Virginia.  It was there, under the harsh flourescent lights of a Subway/gas station/Dunkin Donuts that I spotted the beast. Luckily, I was protected by a sparkling clean glass sneeze guard and was able to photograph the pulled pork without risking life and limb.

As the sauce-stained pork lay silenty in its black plastic cage, reconciled to its fate, I suddenly felt sorry for it. While other pulled porks were cooking away over wood coals with salivating customers eagerly awaiting them, this pork was all alone despite its crowded surroundings.  Pepperoni, provolone, guacamole and the like have nothing to offer a proud pulled pork.  Sure, other pulled porks don’t get displayed on a poster in the Metro or a digital billboard near Petersburg, but was the fame worth it?  Was its life really going to come to an end on an Italian roll being served to an unappreciative BBQ Jew?

Well, not exactly. I ran out the door screaming before I could bring myself to order this vile creation.  But it lurks out there awaiting the next oxygen-deprived inland scuba diver to get pulled in

“BBQ” Chicken

It Was A Dark and Stormy Night
No, really, it was.  It was a cold, rainy night in mid-March when I found myself in a predicament.  I was craving ‘cue, my wife was 900 miles away, my daughter was asleep for the night in her crib, and I had some near-expired boneless, skinless chicken breast in the fridge.  What was a BBQ Jew to do? 

Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures
I opened the fridge and took out the chicken.  Next, I opened the pantry where by fate (or mispent divine intervention?) I spotted a half-empty bottle of Eastern-style BBQ sauce.   Problem solved.  And then one more pantry discovery: canned collards waiting patiently but hopelessly to be eaten by my vegetable-averse daughter.  A pseudo-BBQ plate was emerging (alas, sans hush puppies).  I doused the chicken in the BBQ sauce and baked it in the oven; no need to wood cook faux ‘cue, after all.  Once cooked, I chopped the sad-looking bird meat up to resemble barbecue as best it could and drenched it with more sauce.  There was no turning back now.

Moral of the Story
There may be a reason chopped chicken breast with barbecue sauce is not a staple of menus across North Carolina.  Most likely because it has no flavor.  (Interestingly, turkey barbecue is served at some NC restaurants, or so I’ve been told.)  Oh well, at least the chickens of North Carolina can sleep a little easier knowing they are no replacement for hog…

The End.

Tastes as good as it looks, but that's not saying much

Tastes as good as it looks, but that's not saying much

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

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