America’s Largest Pork Display

America's Largest Pork Display

This sign was all I needed to lure me to Nahunta.

I saw the billboard pictured above and it made me crave knowledge and enlightenment (and some pork).  Specifically, I wanted to understand what was meant by, “America’s Largest Pork Display.”  Could I be so lucky?  Could this statement really be true?  And what the heck does “pork display” mean anyway?  These questions burned in my mind like a pork shoulder over hot hickory coals.  So I decided to turn off Highway 70 just west of Goldsboro and follow the road to Nahunta Pork Center.  I’m glad I did.

The Pork King is a benevolent dictator.

The Pork King is a benevolent dictator.

The Nahunta Pork Center (NPC) has been around for over 30 years, and the story goes back  even farther to a 1950s hog market and slaughterhouse located in the small Wayne County township of Nahunta.  It’s hard to believe that anyone could run a successful business in NPC’s off the beaten path location–five miles off the main highway, out in the country and just past the race track, to be specific–for a year let alone half a century.  But judging by the amount of pork I saw for sale at NPC, they must be doing brisk business. 

When you walk in the front door at NPC, you immediately understand why they claim to have America’s largest pork display.  Also, you wonder where else in the world there might be a larger one.  It’s truly a scary thought.  I’m about as far from vegetarian as I can be short of injecting hog fat directly into  my bloodstream, so I’m not easily impressed by the sight of meat for sale.  But one glance at the pork display at NPC is enough to make the most devout carnivore hope to the heavens that God is not, in reality, an angry vegeterian (is there any other kind?).  If He is, I can at least take solace in the fact that the road to hell is paved with good swine.  Continue reading

BBQ Jew’s View: Grady’s BBQ

3096 Arrington Bridge Road, Dudley, NC
No Website
BBQ Jew’s Grade: A+
Porky Says: “I can now die happy.”

A sneak peek inside the pearly gates.

A sneak peek inside the pearly gates.

I thought about leaving my review at this: go to Grady’s.  That would have been enough said, but the folks at Grady’s deserve a little more good (albeit virtual) ink.  As far as I am concerned, Grady’s is among an elite few of the best barbecue joints in the state.  Unfortunately, their off the beaten path location has kept them in relative obscurity, even though they’ve dished out terrific barbecue for more than 20 years and many well known joints can’t hold a pig’s wax candle to Grady’s pork.

Luckily, it's what's inside that counts.

Luckily, it's what's inside that counts.

To say Grady’s is unassuming at first glance is an understatement.  Let’s start with the location.  Grady’s is in the tiny town of Dudley, about 15 minutes south of downtown Goldsboro–a town featuring the well-known joints Wilber’s, Scott’s and McCall’s–and just a few hundred yards north of a road called Squirrel Ridge Drive.  The building itself (pictured above) could easily be missed were it not standing all by itself on a quiet stretch of windy road, and were it not for the prominent Continue reading

Let My Pigs Go! (dang–too late)

When last I heard from the Egyptians, they were drowning in the no-longer-parted Red Sea in the story of Passover. Now they’re killing all of their hogs. Dark days.

This week, Egypt slaughtered between 300,000 to 400,000 pigs. The hogs were owned by the Christian minority in Egypt, and many suspect the Muslim government used the swine flu as an excuse to rid the country of the divine swine.

As a human being, an animal liker and a pork lover, I’d like to say: what a waste. Think of all the barbecue that could have been!

As Porky wrote from the vacuum-sealed confines of his basement, there’s no need to panic about swine having swine flu. What would give you such a preposterous idea? Because as the National Pork Board tells us (in an ad conveniently pegged to my Google “swine flu” search), pork is safe!

The World Health Organization said the same. And Joseph Domenech, chief veterinary office with the UN Food and Agriculture Officer in Rome, said the Egyptian decision was “a real mistake.” I’m not positive, but I think he was referring to their decision not to break out the smokers for a national ‘cue party. 

Barring that, at least the Egyptians could have attempted another Red Sea parting to send the non-flu-having pigs to Israel. What, no national sense of humor?! If the hogs made it, they could thumb their nose at their millennia-old rivals (for sending a bunch of unkosher animals their way).  If the hogs didn’t make it, well, they’d have achieved the same result.

Carthage Buggy Festival (and BBQ Cook Off)

Looking for something to do this weekend and have a wholesome hankering for whole hog?  If so, be sure to check out the Carthage Buggy Festival, which starts off with a barbecue cooking contest on Friday evening.  The BBQ Cook Off benefits The Arc of Moore County, and is an officially sanctioned NC Pork Council event. 

According to the festival website, “Delivery of the pigs to each contestant will take place at about 10:00 p.m.  [Friday]. They cook all night and the following morning on-site judging by N.C. Pork Council certified judges begins at 8:00 a.m.  Following the on-site judging, local barbecue enthusiasts will put their palates to a blind taste test of all contestants’ barbecue.  On-site and blind scores will then be combined to determine the first, second, third and fourth place winners.”

Better yet, “The public is invited to come out to the park between 8:30 and 10:00 a.m. Saturday morning and taste free samples of each cooker’s pig and sauce.  This will be the only chance to taste differences between cookers.  Once the judging is complete the cooked and chopped barbecue will be combined and sold as sandwiches and in bulk…”  It’s great that Joe Public gets to taste the ‘cue before it’s all lumped together, and this sets Carthage’s event apart from some of the state’s larger barbecue festivals.

How to Find Good Barbecue

It’s not easy to accurately judge a book by its cover, but your friends at BBQ Jew are always willing to try.  Our goal is to prevent you from wasting too much of your valuable time–or too many points on your cholesterol level–eating mediocre barbecue.  You deserve better.  Below are our tips (commandments?) for separating the wheat from the chaff meat from the gristle when it comes to finding good barbecue joints.

Viva le wood!

Viva le wood!

– If there is a wood pile outside it’s worth going inside. The wood pile may be tucked away in the back, it may be right up front, but it must be somewhere if they cook with it. Once you find the pile, check for signs that it has been used recently and isn’t just there for decoration (this trickery has been reported, though if the BBQ Jew was king such deception would be a criminal offense).

NEW IS OLD NEWS – Be very suspicious of a barbecue joint if the building it is located in was built less than 20 or so years ago. Sure, there are some good joints that challenge this rule of thumb, but a shiny new building is at best a honkin’ big red flag.

PARKING LOT PARADISE – Glance around the parking lot. Ideally, there will be a diverse mix of beat up pickup trucks, vans with commercial tags, compact cars, lawyer mobiles (Mercedes, BMW, etc.) and more. If all those different people think the ‘cue is worth eating, you probably will too. Continue reading

Ham & Yam Festival

Just a quick post to encourage you to check out the Ham & Yam Festival, which runs through late Sunday afternoon in downtown Smithfield.  Note that barbecue plates from the pig cooking contest will be on sale from 12:30 until 5:00 p.m. on Sunday.  Sorry we didn’t get this post up with more advance notice; the barbecue festivals snuck up on us this year.  We vow to do a better job of informing you, our loyal readers, of essential upcoming events in the future.  Until then, we ask that you forgive us our trespasses as we have forgiven those who abandon the almighty hickory wood.

Speaking of which, please forgive me for the below photo.  It has nothing whatsoever to do with the Ham & Yam Festival, but I took it last time I was in Smithfield and this seems like as good (or bad) an occasion as any to share it.

If you say so.

If you say so.