Barbecue on NCPedia: Historic Photos

You must click here.  Don’t trust me, eh?

If you enjoy barbecue and North Carolina history, you must click here

Still don’t trust me? The links above lead to the NCPedia entry on barbecue, which includes a nice little slide show of historic photos. If you want just the photos without the accompanying article then click here for the 45 picture slide show.

Hogku Part Deux

It’s been more than a year since my first attempt at the soon-to-be-timeless art of hogku (that is, haiku about barbecue).  Well, the mood struck me again at last, so here goes the fruits of 10 minutes of labor (okay, maybe 15):

Amtrak train take me
To the once-a-year station
‘Cue Festival time

Cole slaw is subtle
But accents the split between
East versus the West

Pig pickin’ time now
Harvest the tobacco field
Start again come spring

Tobacco and pork
Go together hand in glove
Smoking banned, ‘cue not

A capitol dome
Perched atop Pete Jones’ castle
Skylight Inn lives on

Pitmasters’ labor is
Rarely in view but humbles
The BBQ Jew

Ash(hole) Wednesday

Raleigh-based sculptor Joel Haas sent me a note describing one of his recent projects.  Here’s what he had to say about his folk art pig cooker:

The pig cooker naked


Attached are several photos of a new, larger pig shaped pig cooker I recently made and shipped to a BBQ fanatic in Alabama.  The tail opens to make a smokestack; there is a steel “thought balloon” painted in chalkboard paint on which a cook can write messages or “pig thoughts”; used charcoal and wood is cleaned out of the “ashhole.”   The inside grill racks can be set at a steep angle over the coals allowing one to place slower cooking meat high up on the rack and faster cooking items lower of the racks where they are just over the coals. There are a number of hooks for hanging implements on the push handle; the grill opens using a handle made of forks and spoons.  One of the photos shows the grill at the powder coat painter’s with the side open and tail open (see inset); the black heat resistant paint is good to 1200 degrees F; there is a small hole to set a thermometer in near the tail.    

Note that the pig has my trademark lavender eyelashes and toenails in its final painted form (see photo below). Yes, the outer paint will scorch some around the grill door and along the bottom and maybe even along the top, though I doubt that area will scorch much; the head is merely decorative.  There is a black steel loop above the ashhole to put a chain through so the pig won’t “wander off.”  

As usual, there are NO provisions for the unrighteous and heretical practice of gas grilling.

The pig cooker with its paints on

Porky’s Pulpit: Were There BBQ Joints in Nazareth?

Thank you to Jay and Katherine, a husband-and-wife team who sent me the below picture of a fascinating tapestry.  According to Katherine, “The tapestry hangs in the Gallery of Tapestries in the Vatican Museum and is a picture of the Last Supper.  I think it was woven in the 1600s.”  Why is this artwork of particular interest, other than the obvious fact that it is Holy Week?  Well, this particular depiction of the Last Supper appears to feature a serving platter full of pig! 

Since I’ve never before seen a pig-positive depiction of the Last Supper, I’m curious to hear from any religious scholars who can help answer these questions: Are those really pigs featured on the platter?  And, if so, is it at all possible that swine might have been on the menu at the Last Supper given the number of, you know, Jews present?  Also, what might the pigs’ symbolic meaning, if any, be in this tapestry? 

Given Jesus was a Jew, one would expect he kept kosher.  Then again Jesus, you may have heard, was no ordinary Jew.  According to that holiest of holy website WikiAnswers, which is a decidely unscholarly source of information, there is some debate about whether Jesus indulged in treyf food like swine.  The evidence that Jesus might have eaten pork largely comes from him saying, “It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man” (Matthew 15:11).  Whether this one passage can be interpreted to mean it is okay to eat pork and other “unclean” foods is not clear.  Anyone out there care to enlighten me? 

Last Supper tapestry, courtesy of Jay and Katherine Wilkerson

Porky’s Pulpit: The Art of Hogku

With apologies to the people of Japan, and people anywhere who practice the art of haiku or any other form of poetry, I present to you my first attempts at creating a new art form called hogku.  In case you don’t know, haikus (at least the Americanized version) stick to a basic 5-7-5 syllable structure.  Below are my first hogkus.  Readers, any hogkus or other barbecue-inspired poems to share? 

Hickory smoked smell
Taste of vinegar on tongue
God must be watching

Eastern or Western
Differences disappear
Over a chopped plate

Hush puppies, slaw, bun
Everything looks good, except…
Where is the pig meat?

Pig, your sacrifice
Will be memorialized
By sacred pit smoke

Golden fried cornmeal
Your secret is safe with me
In my stomach now

Art, Religion & Barbecue

We recently received an email from Joel Haas of Raleigh, who kindly agreed to let us share excerpts from his witty message.  Joel’s email begins as follows: “I am very, very grateful that my Jewish grandfather who immigrated to NC in 1900 didn’t take his religion seriously and married a Methodist girl, or I, a NC born and bred back sliding screaming left wing Episcopalian, would not be enjoying the joys of Q.”  How’s that for an opening salvo?

Joel’s email continues, “My true religion is ultra orthodox right wing don’t even talk-to-me-about-using-gas hickory-smoked Eastern NC Q.  I am in a mixed marriage since my wife is from near Lexington and Salisbury NC.”  Since Mrs. Porky LeSwine is from Illinois, thankfully I do not have to deal with such contentious debates at my home.  After all, Illinois produces corn and corn is enjoyed in cornmeal form throughout both of North Carolina’s regional barbecue empires.  Of course, Mrs. LeSwine has never taken a shine to barbecue, so not all is well at my home.

Functional pig art by Joel Haas

Functional pig art by Joel Haas

Back to Joel.  In addition to being a left-wing Episcopalian and a right-wing Hickory Thumper, he is a professional sculptor.  Although he does not Continue reading