Tuesday, June 13, 2006

In North Carolina Barbeque is Haute Cuisine

A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting next to a friend at a dinner party. Knowing that I am from North Carolina, she shared with me about the time she spent in the Tarheel state. She recalled an occasion when she was invited by a local family to go out for barbecue. At the local barbecue joint, she was presented with a menu and ordered based on the recommendation of the waitress. When the food arrived, she said that she was unable to eat it. She said that it looked like vomit.

Now for those of you who have the misfortune of NOT being from North Carolina, here's a quick barbecue overview. In NC, when we speak of barbecue (or BBQ or Bar-b-que), we are talking generally about roast pork, often the whole pig. There is an art to cooking the meat as well as preparing the thousands of secret sauce recipes. There are even regional differences! Barbecue from Eastern NC is different from that in the west. Follow this link for a whole primer on North Carolina barbecue.

The woman I was sitting beside is a very well educated and well travelled woman. What I found interesting is that generally when these well educated and well travelled people actually travel to a new environment they are willing to embrace the culture around them - you know, when in Rome. You wouldn't travel to some remote African village and expect to get the kind of food that you find in Paris. Plus when you're served grubs and exotic root vegetables in that African village, you are probably going to smile and at least make an effort to try something new.

Why is it for this culturati hip circle that barbecued pork in North Carolina is nauseating but funky cheese from France - or even bottom-feeding lobsters are delicacies?


At 6/13/2006 11:58 AM, Anonymous Shirat HaSirena said...

HA! I loved this post. LOVE it. I had to edu-ma-cate a California friend on the delicious-ness that is BBQ. I will admit though, that I don't eat the pork. I grub on the chicken. BBQ sauce based in vinegar is like heaven.

I even love how BBQ can be a verb or an event. Like "Let's have a BBQ" or "We're going to BBQ tonight." People who are not from the south do not understand that.


Just another food I'm missing at the moment. Can I get a big plate of NACHOS and BBQ?

At 6/14/2006 4:29 AM, Anonymous C. Dodson said...

Every good southerner knows Nachos do not go with BBQ. You would ask for BBQ, Brunswick Stew, hush puppies and slaw. Just in case you visit you can at least know what to ask for. Oh! and get chopped BBQ not sliced. cd

At 6/14/2006 6:45 AM, Blogger John said...

Hi CD! Shirat is a transplant to Tel Aviv from NC. Recently I was talking with her about the foods we miss from the US. FOr her, it's nachos - you can't find them here.

But you're right, part of the BBQ experience is the sides - hush puppies - yum!


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