There’s a topic that I’ve been very cautious not to tackle in the fledgling days of this blog. It’s a subject which, at its very core, has the power to split friendships and families. It’s one which is fraught with emotion on either side, and just bringing it up has the potential to label you as an infidel if you find yourself on the flip side of someone’s opinion.
Early in the days of becoming a pastor in North Carolina, I foolishly charged headlong into the subject. I was a brash know-it-all who felt that I must speak the truth, no matter the personal cost. In reality, it was the best way to alienate myself from my congregation and my co-pastors, so I learned to keep quiet.
However, on Day Two of my Tennessee / Alabama vacation, I’ve had a realization. I can no longer betray my upbringing and my internal compass. Whatever the cost, I simply must speak out. I just has to be said:
North Carolina barbecue is horrible.
Now, I have a lot of love for my adopted home state. Merriem and I have lived there for just over half of our marriage. Our two older kids don’t really remember life outside of NC. My youngest, by his birth, is a native. The Tarheel State has a lot going for it. We have the mountains and the beach. We have Andy and Opie. We gave Krispy Kreme to the world.
But our barbecue insults the pigs it was picked from. I can’t understand for the life of me why any self-respecting cook would chop a pig to smithereens, add all sorts of foreign flaky objects, and serve it up as if it were art on a plate. I remember the first Pig Pickin’ I ever attended. There lay Porky, in all his naked glory, split down the middle and splayed on a grill that had been converted from an old oil drum. From the taste of the pig, they didn’t scrape out the drum before they started cooking on it. There was no amount of hush puppies that would cover the funk.
But Tennessee barbecue…Tennessee barbecue is a religious experience. I grew up in Southern Middle Tennessee, and here in the Tennessee Valley there is a family that I refer to as the Barbecue Mafia. Some decades back, legend has it, the family split into three factions, and those three groups of descendants now have three different restaurant chains all over this area. When the pit is fired up, you can smell the heavenly piggy for miles. Today, I experienced their talents…twice. My taste buds immediately formed a committee to thank my hands for raising the fork to my mouth.
Let me just say this to my NC brethren: you can poo-poo my BBQ view. But I challenge you, drive down here. Try the barbecue (it’s pulled pork, as it should be). I promise you that you will get in your car, travel back to the city of your birth, walk into your parents’ living room, and slap your mama. It is just that good. You don’t need sauce. You don’t need vinegar. You do need stretchy pants. And perhaps a paramedic standing close by.
So there you have it…I speak the truth in love. Since God has blessed the piggies, you shouldn’t squander the blessing.
I stand ready for your nasty, underhanded, opposing views. But I won’t stand for long…there are leftovers in the fridge.