Barbeque On the Brain

Let’s talk about Barbeque for a minute here. (And yes, I will use the capital “B” because I consider Barbeque a unification of science, art and anthropology, making it important enough for proper-noun status in my book.)

So I’ve got Barbeque on the brain for a few reasons (don’t worry—they say it’s not fatal).

  1. The Brooklyn Brewery is hosting their Pigfest this weekend.
  2. Blue Smoke is hosting their second-annual Barbeque Block Party darn soon.
  3. I just read a mouth-watering Jeffrey Steingarten piece on the Memphis in May Competition (“The Superbowl of Swine”).

Working the Blue Smoke event last year, I heard thousands of New Yorkers rant a thousand variations on the same muffled whine as they shoveled heaping mounds of hot, sweet pulled pork into their mouths, their pockets, their Tupperware take-home containers.

Their point? New York doesn’t do Barbeque right.

I ate a fair amount of Pitmaster Chris Lilly’s delectable pulled pork at Big Bob Gibson’s tent during those two sticky, sloppy, sauce-covered days, and I began to wonder if there wasn’t something to the noise of the hungry masses.

What makes Southern Barbeque so special? Why are Northerners seemingly unable to reproduce Barbeque of the same quality as their lower-latitude neighbors? Is it technique? Equipment? Attitude? Some kind of fuzzy memory + nostalgia on the part of the transplanted Southerners?

I think the topic begs further investigation and a summer research project. I’ll report back later.

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