Friday, May 19, 2006

Barbecue and Politics Don't Mix Well in North Carolina

Well, shut my mouth. The barbecue folks in North Carolina are stirred up. Seems some state legistator decided to slide through a bill to make Lexington, NC the official BBQ city of the state. The beach crowd didn't take too kindly to this. In fact, the Washington Post found the little in-state feud quite interesting and headed south to get the scoop.

If you're not from around these parts, then you probably wonder about all the fuss. Is barbecue really that big a deal? Yep. Sure is. Just stop at any Q joint in the state and ask who makes the best slow cooked pig. You will get an ear full (and a mouth full of "the best barbeque" to back it up).

It basically boils (or fires up) to ketchup vs. vinegar. Fans fall on one side or the other. As Dennis Rogers says in the Post article, "People who would put ketchup in the sauce they feed to innocent children are capable of most anything." He represents the eastern portion of NC.

Lexington is in the piedmont (not the west--that's the mountains). Don't go look that up. Piedmont just means the flat land between the mountains and the beach. The sauce in the piedmont is vinegar based with just a tad of tomato. That "tad" is enough though for the coastal dwellers to draw a line in the sand. Ask anyone from the piedmont if the barbecue is tomato based and they'll laugh and "set" you straight.

It's those people out in Kansas that lather meat up with ketchup--not the good people of central North Carolina. Just try slapping the bottom of the sauce bottle in the piedmont like you would a ketchup bottle, and you'll see. Your chopped pork sandwich will be floating like a boat. Of course, the sauce is the best part. So, no big deal.

The beach BBQ folks know that the piedmont folks don't use ketchup, but it makes for a good insult (sorry about that Kansas que cooks). Saying a sauce is ketchup base is about as bad as insulting someone's momma in this state. But, that's the best they can come up with out in the sandhills, since the slight color variation is the main obvious difference in the two cooking styles.

As for the taste, I'm not even going to go there. Don't talk politics, religion, or barbecue in North Carolina unless you have all day and nerves of steel.

Nice weather we're having, by the way. Good day for a "fill in the blank."

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