Texas & North Carolina: A BBQ Love Story

Props to my barbecue brother-in-arms (and shoulders and ribs), Daniel Vaughn of Texas Monthly, who traveled to North Carolina a few months back and writes about his experience here: http://www.tmbbq.com/finding-common-ground/

Daniel makes several good points in the article, not the least of which is his impassioned argument for outside brown and fatty brisket.  I couldn’t agree more.  Thanks for preaching the gospel, Brother Daniel.  You’re proof that Texas residents are capable of common decency and sound reasoning, despite numerous counter examples.  You are welcome back to the Tar Heel state anytime… so long as you bring me a Texas brisket offering.


(NC BBQ) Anarchy in the U.K.

I’m four years late on this one, but as any true barbecue fan knows good things are worth the wait.  Loyal reader Porcophile recently emailed me with the link to an article published in London’s the Guardian newspaper in June 2009. The subject?  You guessed it, North Carolina barbecue.

Journalist Joshua Stein is a Brooklyn-based Barbejew, judging by his name, who at the time wrote for the Guardian.  (Where are you now, Joshua Stein?  The Guardian needs you, as it’s NC BBQ coverage has really slipped over the years).  The article Mr. Stein authored is a fairly pro forma overview of North Carolina barbecue, so I’m bringing it to your attention only as a further indicator that North Carolina barbecue will someday takeover the world.  No word on whether the Brits like their barbecue served over a jacket potato, but I’d be surprised to learn otherwise.

Although we owe our eternal gratitude to the Spaniards for introducing the hog to America (thanks Columbus, and a belated Happy Holiday to you!) , it is good to know that others in Europe are being introduced to slow-cooked swine.

When Barbecue Attacks

Usually barbecue is a docile creature, but if provoked it will attack.  Just ask the good folks of Cleveland County: http://www.ncdhhs.gov/pressrel/2013/2013-09-17_clev_co_salmonella_outbreak.htm.

It Ain’t Easy Being Judgy

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to be a barbecue judge, and imagined it’s all fun and games, think again.  It’s hard work.  Well, sort of.  See Jeri Rowe’s account in the Greensboro News & Record.

Pork Shoulder Politics

The summer is winding down and fall is almost upon us.  In North Carolina, that means one thing: political barbecues.  Pork and politics have gone hand in hand in the Tar Heel state since its earliest days.  Charlotte, being the largest city in the state, may well have more political barbecues than anywhere else, from the relatively small scale like today’s 5th annual North Mecklenburg Republican Women’s BBQ event to the 84th annual Mallard Creek Barbecue that serves thousands of ordinary people (and countless extra-ordinary politicians) on the fourth Thursday in October.  Pork barrel politics indeed.

Kansas City – The K is for Kosher?

The Kosher barbecue scene is heating up faster than a gefilte fish swimming upstream.

At least that’s my conclusion based on the pictures in the Kansas City Star of yesterday’s 2nd annual Kansas City Kosher BBQ Festival, which was organized by Rabbi Mendel Segal (soon to be known as Rabbi Handi Wipe?).  Click on this link to see a photo gallery of the event, including a picture of the Rabbi’s father as he “tested some BBQ ribs,” according the the Star.  It sure does look like a pork rib that he is eating but I have a sneaking suspicion that it is actually a piece of burnt end.  Anyway, good to see the KC Kosher community embracing barbecue.  That said, I’m still waiting for the Judea (Really) Reform Whole Hog Barbecue Contest…

Far Eastern North Carolina Barbecue

You knew it would come to this.  It was only a matter of time.

Pit-cooked barbecue, including “Carolina pulled pork”, has established itself in Japan, according to this article in The Japan Times.  If anyone would like to fly Porky LeSwine to Tokyo (a coach seat is fine, as he is a humble man despite referring to himself in the third person), he will be happy to review these barbecue joints.  (So far nobody in Japan has opened a restaurant callled Lexington Ichiban, by the way.)

We sure do live in a global society.  I wonder what they’ll think of next–sushi restaurants in North Carolina?!  Oh, who am I kidding, that will never happen.  However, a “Carolina BBQ Roll” would be pretty tasty: slaw and pork wrapped in cornmeal-dusted nori… mmm mmm, maybe I can skip that flight to Tokyo after all.


By jon at http://www.flickr.com/photos/southtopia/ (Creative Commons license)

A Blast from the Past: Hard, Dirty Work

It’s good to set down your New York Times bestseller once in awhile and read once again from the gospels.  To that end, I suggest you, gentle reader, take the time to read this July 2011 article from the News & Observer/Charlotte Observer.   Food writer Kathleen Purvis does a tremendous job of describing what makes real barbecue–a sublime mix of wood, smoke, sweat, and stubbornness–while profiling the Skylight Inn and other purveyors of the true ‘cue.  Enjoy!

Texas vs North Carolina: 10 Rounds and No Decision

A tip of the snout to my barbecue buddies John Shelton Reed (Holy Smoke!) and Daniel Vaughn (The Prophets of Smoked Meat) for engaging in an amusing debate about the relative merits of NC and TX barbecue on the pages of Texas Monthly magazine.  See their jabs and counters at http://www.tmbbq.com/the-barbecue-editor-disputes-a-tar-heal/

My favorite passage–a TKO, in my opinion–goes to John with his brilliant dissection of Vaughn’s inability to describe what exactly is Texas barbecue:

“There are more hogs than people in North Carolina, but if we are ‘porcivorous’ (in 1728 William Byrd II said we were) it’s not just for convenience. Our barbeculture is something like the dogma of the Orthodox Church—settled, unchanging, secure in the truth, threatened only by modernity, not by rival faiths. Meanwhile, y’all west of the Mississippi seem to have erred and strayed into the barbecue equivalent of speaking in tongues and taking up serpents. In fact, for all I know, you may take up serpents and barbecue them. Wouldn’t surprise me. Look, surely it’s not my responsibility to defend what has been an understanding universal in Christendom. It’s for Texans and Kansas Citians and Owensboroites to justify their departure from it. Martin Luther nailed some theses to the Wittenberg church door: he didn’t just go do his own damn thing.”

As a related aside, I should point out that the very first trip Daniel Vaughn took after being named Barbecue Editor of Texas Monthly was to none other than… not Lockhart, not Luling, but North Carolina.  To eat barbecue.  Yep.  I assume Mr. Vaughn came to North Carolina as many pilgrims do, to draw strength for what he realizes will be many years of wandering the Texas barbecue desert.

NCBS BBQ Boot Camp – Picture’s Worth 1,000 Words

I spent the weekend helping out at the NC Barbecue Society’s BBQ Boot Camp at Sugar Mountain Resort.  I served as a glorified roadie by setting up tents, carrying trays of food, picking up trash, and similarly glamorous jobs.  Oh, and I had plenty of time to listen in on the classes and to eat and drink more than my share.  It was a lot of fun and a great way to connect with fellow barbecue nerds.  A few pictures of the event are below.

"Corporate Clay" and "Big Sam" from the Skylight Inn cooked a pretty pig.

“Corporate Clay” and “Big Sam” from the Skylight Inn cooked a pretty pig.


Jim Early, NCBS founder and president.


Debbie Bridges-Webb of Red Bridges BBQ Lodge arrived in style


It’s hard to do an 8-meat buffet justice, but I tried.