Allen’s: Minor Changes

Just a quick update for any Allen & Son’s devotees out there.  (I’m talking about the Chapel Hill location, of course.) I visited for the first time in close to a year and discovered that their prices have gone up yet again.  Allen’s is now pushing $10 for a barbecue plate, which is a bit ridiculous but it doesn’t seem to be hurting their business so it’s hard to fault them.  As long as Keith Allen keeps cooking over wood and making everything from scratch, I’m willing to pay a premium.

As for the food, the pork was good as ever. I did notice a minor change to the hush puppies though.  They seem slightly smaller. I always assumed that one of the reasons the hush puppies often taste over cooked is that they were so large.  Well, so much for that theory, as the reduced size had no impact on the taste.  The puppies are also served with “butter” (margarine really) these days, something they didn’t do back in the day… and a waste if you ask me.  Finally, and most importanly, I believe the Allen’s slaw is a good deal creamier than it used to be, which is a disappointment because their old ‘cue was just about perfectly tangy and nearly mayo free.  Picky comments, and maybe my memory is failing me, but I’ve been going to Allen’s for 20 years so I take these changes personally!

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On the Origin of Brunswick Stew Species

For those of you who believe in evolution, I thought you might be interested to learn about the origin of Brunswick Stew, that classic accompaniment to Eastern North Carolina barbecue.  But then it seems Brunswick Stew’s story is as much a creationist one as it is a story of evolution.

As served today in North Carolina barbecue joints, Brunswick Stew’s recipe varies significantly from place to place.  Common ingredients include chicken, pork, corn, lima beans, tomatoes and more.  The consistency ranges from quite soupy to rather thick, and the texture from chunky to almost baby-food soft.  Even the color ranges from bright tomato red to a sickly brownish-gray.

Although present day species of Brunswick Stew have evolved over the years to adapt to whatever niche they fill, with ingredients varying widely from region to region and cook to cook, all the Brunswick Stews seem to have a common ancestor.  Or maybe two.  The origin of Brunswick Stew remains in dispute roughly a century and a half after it emerged from the primordial soup of southern culture.  Continue reading