Porky’s Pulpit: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Barbecue

Today is Memorial Day, a day set aside to remember fallen military heroes who gave their lives trying to protect the American way of life (and to find great deals on new cars, household goods, and other manifestations of consumerism runk amok, ahem, the American way of life).  Yet despite the heroic efforts of generations of brave men and women, one of America’s proudest institutions is under attack.  Indeed, like so many great American traditions before it–sex, drugs and rock & roll, to name only a few–barbecue is continuously affronted by the nattering na(shish-ka)bobs of negativism.

Every week my email inbox is filled with anti-barbecue propaganda, ranging from basically benign barbs to maliciously malignant missives.  Among the attacks I’ve seen on the great American institution, in the past week alone, are:

-On the benign side, confidence-suppressing articles about dealing with problems like “improper flaming” and other possible afflictions of the grill.  Not since Viagra ads first hit the airwaves have America’s charcoal-wielding men had such cause for performance anxiety.

Articles about barbecue’s supposed role in the epidemic of obesity plaguing our nation’s collective midsection.

-News reports that imply barbecue may lead to incidents of violent crime and even natural disasters.

-Malignant stories discussing barbecue’s supposed link to, well, cancer; anyone want to learn about “7 Ways to Cancer-Proof Your Barbecue”?

-The burden placed on barbecue to solve America’s ongoing economic woes and rebuild its diplomatic ties at the highest levels.

-Common dangers, such as household fires, tenuously linked to barbecuing and played up for maximum dramatic effect on barbecue-friendly occasions like Memorial Day and Independence Day.  Even in BBQ strongholds like West Texas, the BBQ-baiting media have tracked down otherwise self-respecting firefighters who “are sending out a warning [that barbecue] might not be worth the risk.”  As current West Odessa Volunteer Fire Chief, and possible Past-President of the West Texas Brussel Sprouts Defense League, Jimmy Ellis put it in the same article, “One spark and the whole city could go up like a keg of dynamite.”  Humph.

-Lest the above dynamite-level dangers not be enough, other alarmists warn of the risk of contracting trichinosis and other food-borne illnesses.  Luckily, in a rare act of bravery, the USDA recently released updated guidelines on cooking meat, and finally admitted that cooking pork to 145 degrees is sufficiently safe (as tenderloin lovers have known for decades).

As if the above affronts on America’s barbecue tradition were not enough, the Al Gore set has devoted a disproportionate amount of effort to pin the future collapse of the earth’s ecosystems on barbecue.  Indeed, it appears that barbecue is now THE grease-stained culprit of global warming. “Are barbecue grills destroying the planet?,” asks an article in the May 27th issue of The Week, just the most recent in a series of attempts to make backyard pit bosses feel as guilty as possible for their selfless act of smoking meat instead of gassing it or, lord forbid, torturing it in an electric oven.

Finally, the forces of evil have stepped up their efforts to challenge the most fundamental of American barbecue values: the near-biblical truth that barbecue is by definition meat.  Indeed, masochistic vegetarians across the country write morally bankrupt drivel like this piece that tries to nudge meat aside and claim a spot on the Weber for veggies (it is consoling that the folks in the picture that runs with the article look famine-stricken and sport forced smiles that quietly scream, “For God’s sake, let me trade this pink polo shirt for a slab of ribs”).

While vegetarians take pains to inflate their bloated self-worth, and to maintain their emaciated figures, by choking down Bulgur Veggie Burgers with Lime Mayonnaise and the like, I’m sticking up for the American way.  I’ll be out back on my flammable wood deck cooking up some carbon-heavy, cancer-inducing pork butt to serve with bacon-flavored greens and calorie-full hush puppies.  After all, it’s Memorial Day and I think that our fallen heroes would have it no other way.

Porky’s Pulpit: There Oughta Be a Law

I will vote for any candidate for national office who proposes a law banning use of the word “barbecue” in contexts like this:

Merry Christmas to All and to All Some Good Meat

I have no idea where this photo originated, but it is certainly impressive. Merry Christmas everyone, including those of you who have way too much time on your hands (meat nativity scene creators and barbecue bloggers, for instance).

Glenn’s BBQ Goes the Way of Kannapolis

I recently learned of yet another sad story about an old time BBQ joint closing its doors for the last time.  This time it is the 50-year old Glenn’s BBQ of Kannapolis, a place I never dined at but wish I had.  A few days before Glenn’s went out of business, the Salisbury Post offered up a beautifully written eulogy-of-sorts.  See the full article here

The Post story is well worth reading for its rich description of Glenn’s and its commentary on the area’s economy. As we all know, it’s been a particularly rough couple of years for the nation’s economy.  Yet places like Kannapolis, ravaged by plant closings and jobs moving overseas back when the nation’s economy was “strong”, were already in bad shape before the recession set in. As Glenn’s owner Ken Clanton succinctly puts it: “There’s no place for people to work. The future of Kannapolis doesn’t look bright.” 

There are a lot of places like Kannapolis in North Carolina and across the country.  If you’re like me and it saddens you to see local businesses like Glenn’s shut down, and to see folks out of work, please do your part by spending your dining dollars on local restaurants.

Porky’s Pulpit: Dickey’s Invasion Continues, Call the National Guard

Below is a press release from that ever so dangerously un-North Carolina barbecue chain, Dickey’s. Read it and weep… and then rush out to support your favorite local BBQ joint (even if it happens to be a Smithfield’s!)

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Dickey’s Barbecue Trifecta Takes on North Carolina

The Barbecue Chain Will Hold Three Consecutive Grand Openings in December

Raleigh, NC, November 29, 2010 –(PR.com)– Three of Dickey’s Barbecue Pit’s newest locations in North Carolina will hold Grand Opening events three days in a row. The barbecues Trifecta include locations in Raleigh, Southern Pines, and Winston-Salem. The events will kick off each day at 11 a.m. where patrons can purchase $1 big barbecue sandwiches and also enter to win free barbecue for a year, according to officials.

The Raleigh location will hold their grand opening on December 1st. This Dickey’s is located at 170 East Davie Street. Continue reading

Hanukkah Coming Soon: Still Time to Buy a Pork Cookbook

Fellow BBQ Jews, need I remind you that Hanukkah comes early in the year 5771? (That’s 2010 for you genteel gentile readers.)  Indeed, the Jewish Festival of Lights begins less than one month from today, as you can likely tell from all the Hanukkah tunes polluting the radio (my local station has “Latkes Roasting on an Open Fire” in predictably heavy rotation).  Though time is slipping away, rest assured it’s not too late to find the perfect Hanukkah gift for the ones you love. 

In case this website sells out of BBQ Jew Merch again, as it has in many past Hanukkah shopping seasons, then consider buying The White Book instead.  As implied by the awkward title (awkward at least for those of us in America, where “white” suggests a mayonnaise-loving racial group more so than a type of meat), The White Book is a pork cookbook.  It was written for Israeli Jews by an Israeli Jew.  Former cardiologist, current author and likely future hate mail recipient Dr. Eli Landau is a not too serious man after my own heart (as The New York Times article puts it, “ANY author has to deal with bad reviews, but how about the wrath of God?”).  He waxes poetic about the other white meat, telling the Times, “Pork meat is to a cook like canvas to a painter.”  He also goes on record suggesting that Israeli Jews will abandon their pork-scorning behavior in a couple of decades; a bold assertion for a people awash in thousands of years of tradition and religious teachings but time will tell. 

Alas, the Mediterranean focus of Landau’s cookbook seems to exclude North Carolina style barbecue pork from the list of recipes, but no matter.  Assuming The White Book manages to break down the thousands of years old wall of anti-pork (and pro-boiled chicken) sentiment among my Jewish brethren then no doubt whole hog barbecue will soon sweep the Promised Land quicker than Moses parted the Red Sea.  Until then, at least you’ll have a nice cookbook to get you through the holiday season if you get sick of latkes.

Run for Your Lives, The McRib is Back!

Breaking news from the Fast Food Nation: The McRib returned to McDonald’s locations nationwide yesterday.  (And just in time for the election: Republicans make big gains and the McRib is reinstated, not sure what to make of that connection.)  Sure, the McRib has it’s defenders, such as one James Pkafke, who writes, “The McRib is like some kind of delicious, mythical being, akin to pure joy captured and stuffed into bread and boneless pork.” But, frankly, whoever this Pkafke guy is (a mythical being, perhaps?), I am quite confident that he is an idiot.  After all, he can’t even correctly spell his own last name–Pkafke, really?  C’mon!  The world needs the return of the McRib like it needs the reemergence of polio.  In my professional opinion, I recommend you vaccinate yourself with a plate of real barbecue from your favorite local joint.