Mamas, Don’t Let Your Sons Grow Up to Be… This Guy

File this under “So Sad It’s Funny.”  CBS Charlotte reports that Salisbury Police apprehended a man employed by a local barbecue restaurant for peeping on his mother-in-law.  What’s funny about that?  Well, it was the glorious stench of barbecue that helped police catch the criminal.

According to CBS Charlotte, the victim “told police that she smelled barbecue coming from outside her home. Knowing her son-in-law works at a local barbecue restaurant, she grew suspicious.”  I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that the victim would prefer her son-in-law not refer to her as “mom.” Just a hunch.

You can’t make this stuff up, folks.  God bless America and its muckraking journalists.

NC Barbecue Final Four

According to the The Dispatch, a recent article in U.S. News & World Report ranked Lexington, NC the fourth best barbecue city in the country.  It’s hard to argue with the cities listed ahead of Lexington–Memphis TN, Lockhart TX and Kansas City MO.  Although if good, traditionally prepared barbecue per capita had been the main criteria I’d argue that Lexington–with its 20-some BBQ joints in the “metro area” and just 20,000 people–would be neck and neck with Lockhart.

Here are my picks for top barbecue cities (and towns) in North Carolina.  If you like, you can consider this the North Carolina barbecue Final Four.

Lexington – As noted in the national rankings, Lexington is the best barbecue town in North Carolina.  There are more traditional wood-cooking barbecue joints in little 20,000-person Lexington than any other locality in NC by a wide margin. (Are you listening Raleigh and Charlotte?)  Lexington’s annual Barbecue Festival that draws 200,000 or so swine worshippers is further evidence of the town’s barbecue supremacy.

Ayden – Home to the Skylight Inn (aka Pete Jone’s place), which serves some of the best barbecue in the state and is perhaps the quintessential Eastern NC barbecue joint, Ayden is a little town with a lot of flabor.  From the food at the Skylight Inn to the rural setting, it doesn’t get much more authentic than Ayden . Better yet, tiny Ayden is also home to the cafeteria-style Bum’s, which is a classic southern restaurant featuring barbecue.

Salisbury – It plays second fiddle to Lexington, but Salisbury deserves its own acclaim, as it is (ironically) the likely birthplace of “Lexington-style” barbecue.  Today Salisburyians (?) continue to cherish their barbecue and the town has a couple of solid, traditional wood burners–Richard’s and Wink’s–to back up their proud barbecue history.

Goldsboro – At one point Goldsboro was arguably the Mecca of Eastern NC barbecue, between the still-famous Wilber’s and the now shell-of-its-former-self Scott’s.  Although it’s barbecue is no longer worth tasting, Scott’s still makes some of the best barbecue sauce available ($1.99 or so at your neighborhood Food Lion, or $1 more at Harris Teeter if that’s how you roll).  The Goldsboro area’s proud tobacco and hog farming history add to its permanent status as a true barbecue town.

New (?) BBQ Joint in Salisbury

Rick’s Barbecue & Grill has opened–or maybe it has been open for awhile, I really don’t know–in Salisbury, the birthplace of Piedmont/”Lexington”-style barbecue.  See the article in the Salisbury Post for details, and drop me a line if you know whether this is a new restaurant or not. From the article, it sounds like a reincarnation or renaming of a previous restaurant but I am baffled.

Porky’s Pulpit: Shame on Food Lion

Regional grocery store giant Food Lion is based in Salisbury, NC, one of the most important (if underappreciated) barbecue towns in North Carolina due to its role as perhaps the birthplace of so-called “Lexington-style” barbecue.  Thus, one might expect that the folks at Food Lion would understand how to properly use the word “barbecue.”  One would be wrong. 

Food Lion is currently offering a promotion called “Backyard BBQ with Keith Urban.”  Does this contest offer as a grand prize a Salisbury area pig pickin’ with the New Zealand-born pseudo-country star?  No, it does not.  Rather, by purchasing a bag of Kingsford Charcoal or a bottle of (ahem, cough cough) KC Masterpiece sauce, shoppers are entered into a contest to attend a “BBQ” (i.e., a cookout) in Nashville, TN with Mr. Urban.  According to Food Lion’s website, no purchase is necessary (except for the charcoal or sauce?) to win this “intimate VIP experience.”  

I am sure Keith Urban can throw a mean cookout, but no intimate VIP experiences for me, thank you very much.  I’ll stick to pork shoulders cooked over hickory coals and flavored with some Salisbury-made dip.

Two BBQ Festivals This Weekend

Looking for something porktastic to do this weekend?  Head on down I-85 to Salisbury, one of NC’s most important BBQ towns, for their annual barbecue festival, which is part of the broader Salisbury Cultural Arts Festival.  The barbecue portion of the event is highlighted by a cooking competition, with competitors’ barbecue available for tasting.  As the festival website says, “Local Folks take three things seriously: Religion, Politics and… BBQ!  Just ask them. ”  If you’re lucky and meet the right people, you can experience all three things in Salisbury on Saturday.

If Salisbury and its nearly 27,000 residents is too much for you to handle on a spring afternoon, head east of I-95 to little Murfreesboro for the Roanoke-Chowan Pork Fest.  The 9th annual edition of the event features a barbecue cooking competition and a special appearance by America’s should-be-favorite mascot, the Piggly Wiggly Pig.

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