Porky’s Pulpit: Ozersky’s “New Barbecue”

If you’d like to read a truly idiotic piece of barbecue writing, and for some reason this blog isn’t meeting your needs, check out Josh Ozersky‘s recent piece in the Wall Street Journal: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323716304578482970210059326.html?mod=itp

The thesis of Ozersky’s article is that barbecue has “become stagnant and so dogmatic that many pit masters haven’t changed their recipes or routines in decades.”  This premise reveals a startling lack of understanding of what barbecue is and what makes it great–tradition, family recipes refined over generations, simple techniques that render (literally) exquisite meat, distinct regionalism, and so on.

One barbecue luminary dropped me a note pondering whether Ozersky’s piece might be satire.  If so, Jonathan Swift himself would be proud, but I don’t think Ozersky is that, uh, swift.  I could go on about the article but I don’t want to waste my virtual breath.  As Daniel Vaughn (@BBQSnob) put it in a tweet to Ozersky (@OzerskyTV), “You say stagnant and dogmatic, while I say traditional and reverent.”  That sums it up.

General Betray-us and the BBQ Mistress

Finally, an angle to the David Petraeus affair story that has caught my interest: North Carolina barbecue.  See the vinegary details here.  As the old Tar Heel State saying goes, “When Jon Stewart sweats through his t-shirt, it’s hard for a four-star general to resist an attractive woman who eats barbecue.”  Once true, always true.

Guns, Gardens and Monks

Nice, brief feature on the legendary Wayne Monk of Lexington Barbecue on Garden & Gun’s website.

Bob Garner Moderates Down Home Foodies

From the Durham County library, this looks like a good one, even though it doesn’t feature any BBQ pitmasters…

Southern Cooking (Durham Reads Together)
Sunday, September 23, 3 p.m.
Southwest Regional Library, 3605 Shannon Rd.

Food plays an important part in the culture of the South and in Maron’s novels. InUp Jumps the Devil, Deborah Knott says, “My family will drop every other subject to discuss food.” Join Bob Garner, television personality and food author, as he moderates a panel of leading proponents of Southern cooking, including Chefs Ben Barker of Magnolia Grill, Billy Cotter of Toast, Amy Tornquist of Watts Street Grocery and Iron Chef Walter Royal of the Angus Barn as they discuss Southern food cultures.

Waste Not, Want Not

Thanks to the illustrious J.S. Reed for sending along the below image of a World War II British propaganda poster. The poster begs the question as to whether loyal citizens should save pork scraps should to feed the hogs.  Yes would be my guess, as the way that fat pig is winking and grinning, it looks like he’s been eating barbecue.

 

Now in Bookstores

Christmas has come early for the BBQ Jew, in the form of a new Bob Garner tome. 

Bob is already a cultural icon in NC and his latest work should add to his legend.  So far I have just thumbed through, but Bob Garner’s Book of Barbecue has already earned the coveted BBQ Jew seal of approval as shown below.  Buy a copy today at Amazon.com or your local bookstore if you still have one…

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BBQ&A: Bob Garner, North Carolina Barbecue Legend

For many Tar Heels Bob Garner‘s name and face are synonomous with North Carolina barbecue.  Garner is a beloved public television personality, restaurant reviewer, writer and barbecue guide book author, and all-around ambassador for our state’s food culture.  Whether writing or cozying up to a TV camera, Garner’s kind and authentic southern gentleman’s personality shines through.  His ability to connect with his audience and his legions of fans make him our state’s version of Al Roker or, perhaps more accurately, fellow Carolinian Charles Kuralt.

In addition to hosting and contributing to a string of popular WUNC-TV shows, Garner has appeared nationwide on the Food Network’s Paula’s Home Cookin’, featuring Paula Deen, and Food Nation with Bobby Flay; The Travel Channel’s Road Trip; and ABC’s Good Morning America.  Among his writing credits are as author of North Carolina Barbecue: Flavored by Time and Bob Garner’s Guide to North Carolina Barbecue, two indispensible books for both barbecue enthusiasts and casual fans of the divine swine.  Garner has also written for Our State magazine, including a terrific multi-part series on traditional southern foods like collards, fried chicken, livermush and fish stew.

Over the past year or so, a leaner but no meaner Bob Garner somehow managed to increase his already sizable presence in North Carolina’s culinary scene.  He now has to his name a nicely done website (bobgarnerbbq.com), leads culinary tours across all corners of the state, is working on a new book, and recently accepted a job as a host-cultural interpreter at The Pit restaurant in Raleigh.  Recently BBQJew.com caught up with the prolific Garner about his past adventures and present exploits in the world of barbecue.

 

BBQJew: Describe a couple of memorable food-related experiences from your childhood. Did you grow up on barbecue or come to it later in life?
Bob Garner: I got interested in food while learning to cook over a fire in the Boy Scouts (and not being willing for the wilderness to defeat me!). I remember the first time I cooked wild game: I shot a squirrel, figured out how to clean and skin it, but then had no idea how to cook it properly. I threw it in the oven, under the broiler, and cooked it for about ten minutes, until it was brown. It was tough as shoe leather! But I eventually became a fair campfire cook, continued to cook in college and have stayed with it ever since.
Barbecue came later, when I married a farm girl from Northeastern North Carolina, whose bothers taught me to cook whole pigs. We did used to go to Bob Melton’s barbecue in Rocky Mount while I was growing up and when we visited a favorite aunt in Rocky Mount. I remember Mr. Melton hanging around the place, with that big cigar hanging out of a corner of his mouth.
BBQJew: Can you trace your love for barbecue to the experience at Melton’s or did the romance happen more subtly over time?
BG: Learning to cook those whole pigs (as a 20-something young married guy), being exposed to the incomparable aroma of the juices dripping onto the coals and being able to “pick” a pig for the first time was a life-changing revelation!
BBQJew: Your first book on barbecue, North Carolina Barbecue: Flavored by Time, was released in 1996.  You were about 50 years old at the time.  How come it took 50 years to work up to such a book?  Had the idea been floating around your head for awhile or did it materialize quickly?
BG: It materialized quickly when I began to do some research on NC barbecue for my work in public television and realized no one had ever pulled history and background about North Carolina barbecue together into a book. (Several others have done it since my books came out.)
BBQJew: How did you first decide to pursue barbecue writing and barbecue reporting on television as part of your career?
BG: Purely by happenstance, when I was given an assignment to do some feature stories on famous North Carolina barbecue restaurants for the program North Carolina Now, which is still running each weeknight on UNC-TV.
BBQJew: There’s some debate among self-proclaimed purists (I confess to considering myself one, at least most days of the week) about how much of the pork cooked/gassed/electrocuted in North Carolina without wood coals can really be considered “barbecue.”  What’s your definition of North Carolina barbecue?
BG: Pork that is cooked slowly, with low heat, and which is served tender, juicy and properly sauced and seasoned, particularly if it is to be served Continue reading
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