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.  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.

5 Responses

  1. Sadly, I don’t place much credence in any reviews from H. Kent, so it doesn’t surprise me that he would even review a pork sandwich from the Cheesecake Factory. They don’t even make a passable cheesecake, and certainly nothing to compare to Eli’s in Chicago or Carnegie Deli in NYC. First and foremost, he seems to know little about pork, slamming Keith Allen’s cue as undercooked when he encounters some of the pinkish dark meat found in any pork shoulder. In his review he states that his dog refused to eat the pig he offered to it from Allen & Son. At that point, he lost all credibility as a critic of NC cue in my eyes.

    Just so you know, I’m a NC native who grew up in Chatham county, and old enough to remember the community hog slaughter every fall. Which was followed by a pig pickin’ where the pit was dug in the ground, a wire grate spread over the wood coals and tin roofing was tented over the pit to hold in the heat and smoke as the pig slowly cooked all night long. Oh, and I’m a fellow BBQ Jew courtesy of my Jewish mother who is still mortified at my love of all things swine.

  2. Bill C, if I could go back in time (when pits were pits and men were men) and join you for an old fashioned pig pickin’ I surely would. Thanks for sharing!

  3. So glad someone else finally sees what a joke H. Kent is as a BBQ “expert.” Total pompass jerk who thinks way too highly of himself and doesn’t know BBQ at all.

  4. New Frontiers in Yuppiecue: I can’t wait for your review of the Midwood Smokehouse in Charlotte (http://midwoodsmokehouse.com/menu.php ). Charlotte could use a good barbecue restaurant, but this overpriced and silly menu suggests that this is definitely not it.

  5. porcophile, i just heard about this place recently from a couple of readers who seem to be reasonable folks and raved about it. i will check it out for myself and report back, it certainly has many red flag raisin’ elements.

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