Skip to comments.Age-old debate over N.C. barbecue fired up
Posted on 05/29/2005 11:47:02 AM PDT by varina davis
Age-Old Debate Over N.C. Barbecue Fired Up
By MARTHA WAGGONER Associated Press Writer
10:15 AM PDT, May 29, 2005
ARCADIA, N.C. Fourth-graders here expected a civics lesson when they suggested that the Lexington Barbecue Festival be named the state's official food festival. Instead, they got a lesson in the fierce intrastate rivalry over barbecue that pits west vs. east, tomato vs. vinegar and whole shoulder against whole pig.
"I didn't know so many people would be asking questions and wanting to know how I feel about it," said 10-year-old Kaylyn Vaughan. "You have to realize it is a very big deal."
While Texas generally unites behind beef brisket, Kansas City has its slathered ribs and South Carolina holds dear to its mustard-sauced pork, North Carolinians are divided about their two distinct barbecue styles.
Crowning one style as "official" would be a mistake, said Bob Garner, author of the book "North Carolina Barbecue," which doesn't take a stand on which version is supreme.
"The whole story of barbecue in North Carolina is about these two distinct styles and this fun, family argument that we just refuse to get rid of," Garner said. "People love to argue about this."
North Carolina's western barbecue, also known as Lexington or Piedmont, is made from the shoulder of the hog and has a red, tomato-based sauce. Eastern style takes seriously an old North Carolina adage -- "We use every part of the pig except the squeal" -- and uses a vinegar-based sauce.
The argument about which is best has waged forever, although Garner said eastern style came first. The state's tourism division even conducted an online poll in 2002. Thousands of votes were cast, with eastern winning by a snout, although the head of the Lexington visitors bureau demanded a recount.
The pupils of Friedberg Elementary School in west-central North Carolina fired up the fight innocently enough in February when they decided to undertake a civics project. They could have studied the state tree, the state bird or the state fish. They chose food.
They wrote letters to lawmakers asking that the one-day Lexington event, one of Travel & Leisure magazine's Top 10 food festivals, be named the "state food festival."
Two lawmakers obliged, but when the bills were filed, they mistakenly called for Lexington's event to become the "state barbecue festival."
The damage was done.
"Remind lawmakers that while our humble pig may not get the publicity Lexington gathers from the lying Yankee press, we still put on a pretty good show," columnist Dennis Rogers, a protector of eastern-style, wrote in The News & Observer of Raleigh.
The High Point Enterprise defended the western style, calling it barbecue from "a lean, filet of pork shoulder in Lexington, not all of Old McDonald's pig."
From there, the students' lesson became political. A House committee recommended the festival receive the state designation last month, but the bill ended up in another committee. In the Senate, the bill has been stuck in committee since it was filed.
"I don't really expect that the bill will be heard," said one of its sponsors, Sen. Stan Bingham, a Republican from the Lexington style's home turf of Davidson County.
Bingham denies the bill was meant to say Lexington-style barbecue tastes better than eastern style. "It's just indicating that 150,000 people come to Lexington for the festival," he said, somewhat unconvincingly.
That's what the Friedberg children say as well. And they manage to say it without an arched eyebrow in the bunch.
"I wish we could all get along," said 10-year-old James Lumley.
Then he gets down and dirty.
"I know that we all think western is better than eastern," he said, pointing around the table at three friends, "and I think western is better."
Garner gives the nod to western-style barbecue on two counts: its aficionados have done a better job of sticking to pit-cooked barbecue than their eastern counterparts, who have no big barbecue festival comparable to Lexington's.
But Garner believes it is heresy to pass a bill that essentially gives western-style the imprimatur of being the best.
"I just think it would be a shame to set up either eastern or Lexington as the official thing when it's all about the friendly debate."
Lexington City Motto: "Famous for overrated Barbeque"
I've never had a vinegar-based BBQ sauce. Sounds kinda good.
OTOH, I'd like to try South Carolina's mustard-based BBQ. That sounds good too.
And I thought that everyone knew that the best barbecue in the world is served at a place named "Betty Roses" in Abilene Texas
A fight's a brewin'.
I've had them both and enjoyed both. However, neither holds a candle to Memphis-style BBQ.
Ditto on that. NC has smoked pork with whatever sauce you want on it.
Down here in SC, there's a barbecue place that offers both tomato-based and vinegar-based barbecue. I usually mix them together for the best effect.
I've never seen a mustard-based sauce, though.
Texas style. Brisket and sausage.....with a good tomato, molasses and pepper sauce. Mustard is for hotdogs and vinegar is for salads. (Just to be clear, though, I do like Kansas City style for ribs and chicken.....)
Texas Beef BBQ and some Memphis style pork. Hmmm....
I don't care as long as it's sliced and I can get some
outside, with a little coleslaw on it.
I don't want it on a soft bun, but white bread toasted
over the coals of the pit.
And stew, real stew not some mush that's been run through
the blender five times, till you can't tell what your eating.
Rudy's in San Antonio isn't bad either.
Fat Matt's Rib Shack, Atlanta, GA.
It is the BEST.
Havnt tried theirs but the next time I'm down there I certainly will..
To start a thread like this on a slow news day is just asking for it </grin
Any Barbecue is fine with me, just trim that stinking blubber off! Charge me more per pound but dont feed me that crap.
But a grilled Tbone is still the ultimate.
If funds are low a top sirloin will do.
I used to live in North Carolina, I thought allowing any child to grow to the ripe old age of 10 and not know the pros and cons of the two styles was ground for Child protective services to evaluate the family for neglect.
The fact the school was involved just goes to show the sorry state of the public educational system.
Hard to grill a T-Bone just right. I prefer ribeyes. ;^)
End of subject.
Must be a real well kept secret.
My favorite barbeque is Stanton's fly-in barbeque and fish camp. I know where it is by the air, but for motorists it's somewhere about 40 miles north of Florence about 2/3 the way when you're fling from Charlotte/Rock Hill to Myrtle Beach/Grand Strand.
Next comes the sweet tea thread and the sweet potato biscuit thread. Perhaps then accompanied by a thread on true country ham and red eye gravy.
Remember the 737 that crashed at Charlotte in 96? The cockpit recorder conversations prior to the downburst were mostly over barbeque sauces between the pilot and co-pilot. The captain of course had the dominating argument and it was for the vinegar based sauce although he could appreciate a misunderstood effort of tomato based sauce by an uneducated pallet.
Now im hungry.
It's from an area around Columbia, SOUTH Carolina. Maurice's is the most well known, Maurice Bessemer is a Southern Heritage guy and his BBQ joints sell a lot of Confederate and Old South stuff as well. I like the mustard based sauce, but prefer North Carolina.
I like Memphis pork ribs the best, and Lexington-style pork shoulder (coarse chopped, with lots of "brown" (outside charred pieces). I just brought a cooked whole shoulder back from Lexington this week, almost all gone now.
It is great.
1 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
What's the name of that famous joint in Rocky Mount? I ate there about 15 years ago, it was great, but I can't remember the name of it.
I'm along with the previous poster about being curious about the mustard BBQ, but I'm open to learning more about the vinegar one too ... and almost any other type of BBQ recipe!
Oh heck, why not throw in information as to the method of cooking ... marinaded and in an oven; on the pit over coals, or whatever ... ??
And how about the fixin's that go along with it? Any local reicpes on just what to have with that BBQ would be helpful too! This could be quite a well-fed 4th coming up ;)
Unless, of course, there already is an Official BBQ thread, but I didn't see one ...
I like your recepie but I add 1/3 cup of molasses to it and reduce the brown sugar by half.
Black's BarBQ in San Marcos still gets my vote.
And just last night I picked up twenty pounds of beef ribs from the butcher. This thread will make me enjoy them even more.
To die for.
Dish it up, I'll eat all.
It's real close to the airport. I find food joints near airports because it's a great way to kill time while waiting for customers to get back. Once you've arrived, there is usually hours to kill waiting for them to come back and fly home. The FBO usually gives you a free courtesy car to go do recon.
All BBQ is blessed.
Naw easy to grill a T-Bone perfect. Shine a flashlight on both sides, call it done.
But this is a BBQ thread. Why are we talking about grilling.
Almost all commercially prepared barbeque sauces have some mustard in them. It really enhances most foods. I make a leg of lamb that I roll in dry mustard. It's great.
As I sit here with a belly full of homemade ribs, brisket, slaw, broc-cauliflower salad and beans, I'd have to say my bbq is best.
OK, here it is! Ralph's Barbeque in Roanoke Rapids, N.C. at exit 173(I-95) --- about 1/8 of mile east off the exit. Vinegar based Barbeque at it's best, Brunswick Stew and Cold-Slaw like nowhere else in the world. Try it and say that preacher knew what he was talking about.
I just got back from Greenville, SC, and had the best BBQ of my life at Henry's Smokehouse. The Hash & Rice was to die for. I also tried a mustard-based sauce at another area restaurant that was really good.
A quick technical question: is an electric smoker worth getting or do I have to get a charcoal version. The electric sounds a lot easier to deal with, but the most important thing is some great-tasting BBQ.
Because we can?
This is the best recipe that I have ever found for barbecued ribs. Use real pork spareribs, not phoney "baby back ribs".
Authentic Barbecue Pork Spareribs
You will need a few items before proceeding with the recipe: A covered kettle charcoal grill, charcoal briquettes, hickory wood smoking chips, aluminum foil (preferrably heavy duty, extra wide) and a large brown paper bag.
Serves about 4
2 slabs pork spareribs , about 6 pounds total, trimmed of extraneous fat
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (optional)
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon dried oregano
4 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons table salt
1 tablespoon ground white pepper
3 tablespoons celery salt
3 tablespoons garlic powder
1. Mix all dry rub ingredients together in a medium bowl. Measure out 3/4 cup of the dry rub and place in separate bowl. Reserve remaining rub for future use. Rub 3 tablespoons dry rub on each side of the 2 racks of ribs. Let ribs stand at room temperature for up to an hour.
2. Light a chimney starter 2/3 full with charcoal briquettes and burn until covered with thin coating of light gray ash, about 10 - 15 minutes. Empty coals onto half of the grill, leaving the other half empty and arrange about 2 or 3 briquettes high. Keep bottom vents of the grill completely open.
3. Wrap about 2 cups of hickory wood chips in a foil packet and poke packet with a fork. Lay foil packet on top of the charcoal. Put the cooking grate in place. Position the ribs on the grate opposite the fire (on a 22-inch grill, you should be able to cook two full slabs of ribs side-by-side). Put the lid on the grill, with the top vents two-thirds of the way open, directly over the ribs. This will help draw the heat and hickory smoke past the ribs. Initial heat will be about 350-degrees, and should drop about 250-degrees over the course of cooking.
4. Turn the ribs every thirty minutes for a total cooking time of two to three hours. At 1 1/2 hours, check the cooking temperature and add an additional 15 coals to keep temperature constant at 250 degrees. If the meat is nearing doneness, the meat will start pulling away from the bones and have a distinct rosy glow on the exterior.
5. Immediately after taking the ribs off the grill, completely wrap them in aluminum foil. Put the foil wrapped ribs in a brown paper bag and fold the paper bag over the ribs. Allow to rest at room temperature for one hour or more.
6. Unwrap ribs and cut into individual servings. Serve