Porky’s Pulpit: Bourgie Barbecue

With the mainstreaming of barbecue across the country, it’s inevitable that the formerly humble food will finds it way onto menus at a increasingly varied range of establishments.  A case in point is Chapel Hill’s landmark gourmet food shop, A Southern Season, which recently made the following announcement about the newest addition to their delicatessen menu:

Authentic, North Carolina Pulled Pork BBQ
We are bringing you some of North Carolina’s finest—Pig Pickin’ style Pulled Pork with a tangy Eastern North Carolina-style vinegar sauce. Made exclusively with pork Boston Butts.

The Classic NC BBQ Sandwich
Stop by today for a classic BBQ sandwich $4.99 each.”

If you’ve never been to A Southern Season, you should know that I like the place.  You should also know that A Southern Season is famous for its chocolates, ornate gift baskets, wine selection, gourmet deli and cheese shop, and various overpriced snacks and knicknacks.  It is, at its essence, a gourmet southern food store for northerners.  The inclusion of a BBQ sandwich on A Southern Season’s deli menu is akin to McDonald’s deciding to offer an artisanal cheese plate.  Could it be good?  Possibly.  Does it make sense?  Certainly not.

Is bourgie ‘cue something that should concern barbecue traditionalists? A level-headed observer might say no.  I say hell yes.  Although I’ve yet to sample the barbecue sandwich at A Southern Season, I have no problem deeming it, sight unseen, as yuppicue of the highest order and warning my loyal readers to steer clear.  Well, unless you happen to be shopping for Belgian chocolate cordials and get a hankering for chopped pork… I couldn’t fault you for that.

6 Responses

  1. Porky: I appreciate your commitment to the cause and I wholeheartedly feel that so-called “yuppiecue” is an insult to the NC BBQ tradition, and probably a sin in most religions. However, in this one special case, I can see (out of the corner of my bloodshot eye, on a particularly bright, clear day), I can see how A Southern Season should be allowed to serve their knock-off cue without to much pushback from the true believers. First, I love A Southern Season and shop there probably once a year when I can afford it. I also love that the store attracts all these outsiders (non-NC BBQ eaters) and introduces them to some of our regional delicacies (pimiento cheese, country ham, cheese straws, etc).

    So, instead of having these “visitors” driving the back roads of my beloved state, looking for “authentic NC” and being disappointed that a hot dog loaded with mustard, onions, chilli and slaw doesn’t also come with a celery salt, I’d rather contain them in one place, feed ’em what they think they came for, and bid them “Good Day, thanks for the money.” A Southern Season is doing the rest of us a service. Otherwise, these outsiders may see the typical long line outside a real BBQ joint, and decide to come down here and open their own Fake Cue Business.

  2. kfestus, you make a truly convincing argument. I hereby grant you membership in the Order of the Long Leaf LeSwine for your contribution to this website and to the people of North Carolina.

  3. Note that’s it’s piedmont-style Boston butt with an eastern-style sauce. Sounds like Keith Allen’s DMZ combination, which is pretty damn good. I suppose it’s too much to hope that they just get Allen & Son to drop some off every day. Wonder who does cook it? And how? Check it out, Porky, and let us know whether it has been touched by woodsmoke.

  4. Porky, a very close friend went to UNC Chapel Hill back in the late 80s. I ended up driving down to Chapel Hill many a times to hang out with him and I remember, finding authentic NC BBQ fare was something that required Effort (with a capital E). Being BBQ hounds both of us, we’d end up often driving for hours to hit our favorite joints.

    Fast forward two decades, and when I last visited Chapel Hill, I was surprised to find a BBQ joint on pretty much every corner.

    Not all of it was good. Some of it was worth the money. Some of it an absolute travesty to the NC BBQ tradition, but a couple of new joints were serving stuff that could stand alongside the best of them (and I’ve eaten BBQ all across the country!).

    What I’m saying is: this yuppicue culture is perhaps a symptom of the mainstreamization of BBQ, but not all of it is unwelcome. I lived in NYC for a few years and my kids friends were perennially curious about BBQ. They saw all the TV shows and thought that it was all really cool.

    As long as that’s happening, I’m happy.

  5. Kevin, you make a very reasonable and logical argument. Needless to say, there is no room for that on my website…

  6. porcophile, i am not sure i have it in me to order BBQ at A Southern Season. a man has his limits.

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