Ugly and Delicious

I’ve never accused North Carolina barbecue of looking pretty, but it sure is tasty.  Exhibit A is this plate of ‘cue at Wilber’s in Goldsboro:

A hot mess.

Porky’s Pulpit: Now You’re Cooking with Gas

The phrase “now you’re cooking with gas” dates back at least to the 1940s, when advertisements used the tagline to tout the performance of gas stoves, and likely earlier.  By the 1940s, gas ranges had been around for decades and had supplanted wood stoves in urban areas but were being challenged by a new competitor–the electric range.  In North Carolina, of course, “now you’re cooking with gas (or electricity)” is not something to be proud of when your cooking barbecue.  But when the gas with which you’re cooking barbecue comes from North Carolina, it’s newsworthy.

According to a story on WRAL News, Patterson Exploration Services of Sanford operates North Carolina’s only natural gas well in nearby Chatham County.   On Saturday, a group of scientists and others celebrated with a barbecue.  As the WRAL reporter points out, “for the first time in history this is pork cooked with North Carolina gas.”  Personally, I’d rather have been around to enjoy the first time pork was cooked with North Carolina hickory wood, but this is one of those rare occasions when cooking pork with gas seems like a pretty good idea.

Hillhock the Pig Couch

A tip of the snout to alert reader “Cracklin’s” Calhoun for sending me the link to the below photo.  Read all about this hog of a chair–your’s for just $950–right here.

Looks like hog heaven to me.

Judaism, Barbecue & Basketball A Dangerous Mix

Coach Pearl during better times

As a Jewish barbecue enthusiast and basketball fan, I am deeply saddened to report that University of Tennessee men’s basketball coach Bruce Pearl was fired on Monday after being embroiled (slow-cooked?) in a barbecue-related scandal.  

Pearl, the President of the Jewish Coaches Association, committed a number of violations during his tenure at UT, not the least of which was coaching his team to a humiliating 30 point loss in the first round of this year’s NCAA tournament.

According to the USA Today, “When asked by investigators where a photo of Pearl and two recruits — high school juniors — was taken, Pearl told them he didn’t know the location. The photo turned out to be taken during a barbeque at Pearl’s home.” Unfortunately for Pearl, hosting high school juniors for an off-campus recruiting visit is a no-no.  Worse yet, I have reason to suspect that the “barbeque” at Pearl’s house was really just a run-of-the-mill cookout rather than a pig picking worthy of using barbeque as a noun.  I have contacted the NCAA about my concerns and as of press time await a response.

Lest you be concerned about Pearl’s financial future, take solace in these words from UT’s press release: “Pearl will be paid at his current salary rate through June 30, 2011. He will also receive $50,000 per month for 12 months, from July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2012, and will also receive health insurance costs. This cumulative figure is $948,728.” In short, it sounds like Pearl will “earn” plenty of gelt to buy himself, and any high school juniors he’d like to invite, a proper pig picking.

Not all Jewish basketball coaches are corrupt.  Most notably, renowned Celtics coach Red Auerbach was a Jew, and he was even inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame (along with that lesser basketball hall of fame in Springfield, MA).  Yep, ol’ Red has a place in the Jewish Sports Hall alongside other legendary members of the tribe—pro bowler Marshall Holman, Canadian Football star Noah Cantor and, of course, renowned canoeist Joe Jacobi. Despite this impressive roster of Jewish sports stars, I can’t help but wonder, do Baptists or Presbyterians find it necessary to have their own sports halls of fame? Or are they too busy hosting real barbecues?

The Year in Re-‘Cue

It’s getting awfully close to barbecue competition and festival season, so I’ve updated the Events page with all the latest info. If you know of a BBQ-related festival or similar event that I am missing please let me know.  See the full list at https://bbqjew.com/events/

Dillard’s Departs

The news hit hard this week: We’re losing Dillard’s. Sad days for the Durham barbecue community.

The institution of an eatery, in business since 1953, will open its doors today for the last time. Dillard’s may not have cooked the state’s best barbecue (see the propane smoker in the rear), but it oozed community and served some just-like-you-wished-your-grandma-did cooking (see Porky’s past review).

Those who’ve never been can get a sense of Dillard’s through these moving pictures, courtesy of ABC-11. The segment confirms that part of the reason for the restaurant’s closing was that owner Wilma Dillard, daughter of founder Samuel, didn’t want to raise prices on folks in these hard times.

That reminded me of the recent ‘cue community rallying around Bullock’s when it became known that Durham’s oldest (1952) ‘cue shack was teetering on the edge. With Dillard’s, we never got the chance. And while I can’t help but wish Wilma had tried raising prices, I respect the heck out of why she didn’t.

Instead of mourning the restaurant’s closing, today is a day to celebrate Dillard’s fabulous greens, fluffy hushpuppies and solid barbecue. And did we mention the fried chicken? If you do head over to Fayetteville Rd., tip your cap (and leave a healthy retirement bonus) to a family that has fed all comers for decades, sometimes for free.

Here’s one quick story from a posting on the Downtown Durham listserv:

When I came to Durham in 1972, I noticed a large display ad in the Durham Morning Herald. It showed Sam Dillard dressed in a white suit with a gold-headed cane. The caption said, “I may not be a colonel, but I do make good chicken.”

Then a few weeks later there was piece saying that Kentucky Fried had sued him, on the grounds that use of the colonel’s trademark suit might cause confusion. [While] Sam Dillard is large and African American, [and] it wasn’t clear [what] the confusion was, KFC won. Then a few weeks after that came another ad, showing Mr. Dillard dressed in overalls. He was standing next to a fallen tree, and on the log was a neatly folded stack of white clothes with the cane leaning against it. The caption said, “Well, they took my colonel suit away from me, but I still make good chicken.”

The ad in question

Finally, we’ll leave you with the verse from Deuteronomy that Wilma and the crew have long had on their message board:

He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.

BBQ and Baseball

Barbecue and baseball are both great American traditions, but do the two have an intertwined history? A curious reader who shall remain nameless unless he’d like to be named asked me the following questions, which I was unable to answer (Bob Garner and John Shelton Reed were also stumped):

Do you know if BBQ was ever served during baseball games throughout North Carolina for any of the minor league farm teams?

Is there any historical connection between barbecue and baseball in North Carolina, that you know of?

It seems logical to assume that ballparks in Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Kinston, Burlington, and the like had BBQ at their concessions stands at some point. However, I’m only familiar with the relatively recent history of soon-to-be extinct (tune in Friday) Dillard’s BBQ in Durham offering food at the Durham Bulls’ concessions.  Any readers know of additional BBQ-baseball connections in NC?