The POTUS’ Sticky Fingers

President Obama clearly enjoys North Carolina (well, at least Asheville) and barbecue.  Whether he enjoys North Carolina barbecue remains an open question.

According to an AP article run in the News & Observer–a story that fits squarely within the Observer part of the paper–Obama’s people placed a large takeout order at 12 Bones when the POTUS visited town earlier this week.  Barry “Bones” Obama has eaten the restaurant’s food at least 3 times (and with all the drones flying around the world, maybe he’s snuck some more without us realizing.)

No word yet on whether The Prez will be the grand marshall of the annual Barbecue Festival in Lexington this October–an act that would help answer the question of whether he actually likes NC barbecue or has a love for 12 Bones due to its broad, non-regionally appropriate selection of barbecue (brisket, ribs, chicken, et al.).

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.

Mamas, Don’t Let Your Sons Grow Up to Be… This Guy

File this under “So Sad It’s Funny.”  CBS Charlotte reports that Salisbury Police apprehended a man employed by a local barbecue restaurant for peeping on his mother-in-law.  What’s funny about that?  Well, it was the glorious stench of barbecue that helped police catch the criminal.

According to CBS Charlotte, the victim “told police that she smelled barbecue coming from outside her home. Knowing her son-in-law works at a local barbecue restaurant, she grew suspicious.”  I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that the victim would prefer her son-in-law not refer to her as “mom.” Just a hunch.

You can’t make this stuff up, folks.  God bless America and its muckraking journalists.

Piedmont Barbecue Happenings

A few Piedmont-area NC BBQ articles of note:

1) Speedy Lohr’s boldly mixes meat and dairy.

2) New heavy metal barbecue restaurant coming soon in Gastonia.

3) Yankee transplant unleashes Porkasauras, and new BBQ joint, on Belmont.

Porcine Ethics

Every once in awhile it’s good to take a step back from BBQ worship to acknowledge that modern day hog farming is too often brutal.  For example, this recent investigation by the Humane Society.  Kudos to The Pit in Raleigh, The Pig in Chapel Hill, and any other barbecue restaurants that focus on local, ethical sourcing of their pork.  I wish more would follow suit and put some pressure on hog producers.  Off my soapbox, and back to the greasy pits.

Boners BBQ Blunder

Some say the customer is always right.  Others say the customer is a “bitch.”  At least that was the case recently for the Atlanta barbecue restaurant with the inauspicious name Boners (and with a solidly sexist website to boot).  A dissatisfied customer’s negative Yelp.com review led to a tirade from the restaurants owner that has been well documented by mainstream media and bloggers alike, including right here.

I guess Boners’ owner (rhyme intended) will find out whether it is true that there is no such thing as bad publicity.  If so, then he may have stumbled into a new, classless way to drum up business–cuss out your customers.  Remember, Atlantans, it’s not that long a drive to North Carolina…

2012: A Pork Odyssey

The 2012 Presidential election campaign is shaping up to be heavy on pork, even leaving aside any barrels.  It all started early this year when the Democrats announced that Charlotte would host their nominating convention.  Michelle Obama immediately put her foot in her mouth by making the naive statement that Charlotte is a great BBQ town.  Hardly.

Next the News & Observer scooped BBQJew.com by breaking the news that in his younger days Rick Perry has compared NC BBQ unfavorably to road kill, bringing into question both his political acumen and whatever part of his past gave him a taste for roadkill.

Pundits say North Carolina will be a battleground state in 2012, ending in a close vote, though I suspect NC will turn out bright red like the ketchup in Lexington-style dip.  Regardless, President Obama has been spending a lot of time in the Tar Heel state.  Most recently, he passed on an opportunity to visit his favorite Asheville barbecue joint (and if you think Charlotte has no good NC BBQ, lord knows Asheville is a joke).  Instead, Obama avoided any tree hugging, patchouli smelling Asheville barbecue in favor of Countryside Barbeque in Marion.  The POTUS still hasn’t learned where to get real NC barbecue–namely Salisbury and points east–but at least he’s headed in the right direction.

As noted barbecue aficianado John Shelton Reed is fond of joking, barbecue may well be the “third rail” issue this election cycle.  Based on what we’ve seen so far, this may be no joke.

If You Can’t Do the Time, Don’t Steal the Swine

A wave large ripple of hog-related crime has swept across the nation (and by nation I mean parts of the upper midwest).

The New York Times–which, I swear I read only for the pictures–reported in late September that: “This month, 150 pigs—each one weighing more than an average grown man—disappeared from a farm building in Lafayette [MN] despite deadbolts on its doors. Farther north near Lake Lillian, 594 snorting, squealing hogs disappeared last month, whisked away in the dark.  And in Iowa… pigs have been snatched, 20 or 30 at a time, from as many as eight facilities in the last few weeks… .”

The reason for the thefts? It’s the economy stupid.  Well, the economy and the commodities market.  Certainly the economy has some folks desperate to earn a buck, and hog prices are at near record highs.  The difficulty of securing and even keeping up with the thousands of hogs on an average industrial hog farm may be contributing factors.

You may wonder, where does one sell a “hot” hog?  The answer remains a mystery but if you drop by your local pawn shop and see a 200 pound hog behind the counter, I recommend calling 9-1-1.

Oh, and I should add that my favorite part of the New York Times article is this correction:  “An earlier version of this article incorrectly quoted Ryan Bode of Rebco Pork. Commenting on 150 missing pigs, he said, ‘My guess is that they’re bacon and pork chops already,’ not ‘baking in pork chops.'”  Only a New York Times reporter would say something as silly as “baking in pork chops.”  C’mon people, get it together.

Gary’s 40th Birthday

Nice article in the Salisbury Post on the 40th anniversary of Gary’s Barbecue in China Grove.

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?