Saturday, May 09, 2009
THE BARBECUE CHRONICLES: RIGHT ON 'CUE
I was talking to my friend Gordon who was cracking a joke he heard at the Rotary club, where all manner of humor is possible. He said that one of the fellow Rotarians had lost a bet over this last election. To be specific he had said that an African American would become President about the time that swine/pigs flew. Turns out he was a prophet without profit. President Obama had been in office less than 100 days and then we had swine flu, which as I reminded you all has nothing to do with 'eating pork products', though some of you have reacted as if you could catch that darn flu by eaten pulled pork, pork rinds,ribs and the like. IT AIN'T SO,.... I'm just saying...
Now I was over at the Old Kentucky Barbecue Restaurant in Lexington yesterday, and I thought I had tried all manner of barbecue before now, but I discovered something new--- barbecue smoked over apple wood. And it is good!!! Bought a couple of pounds with some cole slaw as a side. Yum!
Need I remind you again that barbecue is: 1) not a sauce you put on food; 2) not a grill in your backyard; 3) not composed of beef of any sort, but is rather 4) slowly smoked pork. I've seen it smoked with hickory (best choice), post oak, mesquite, pecan (I'm deeply conflicted about this one since its a horrible use of the tree if its still manufacturing the raw materials for pecan pies), and apple. Pecan produces the sweetest tasting barbecue, and mesquite the tangiest even without sauce. But this apple wood smoked barbecue is just fine.
Sometimes I find barbecue, and sometimes it finds me. For example, I woke up this morning and had a Google Alert waiting for me in my email box. I was sent notice that Kevin Witherington has opened a branch of the famous Moe's Barbecue Chain in Birmingham Ala. Moe's however originated in Vail, Eagle, and Denver Co.
I am now worried that my relative has been relatively unsmart and managed to surreptiously import Western (read beef) barbecue into the Ole South under the cover of darkness. Here's the link to the story in the Vail paper--http://www.vaildaily.com/article/20090508/BIZ/905089962/1078&ParentProfile=1062.
Folks in Birmingham can be forgiven for already being a bit confused about what real barbecue is, since theirs originally came from Georgia where they put this red, catsup based sauce on it. This in no way enhances the flavor of the hickory smoked pork, and once you start doing things like that to good barbecue its a slippery slope down the road to Western style Barbecue--- can you say beef brisket? Now brisket is not bad, but it ain't real barbecue either.
I have a theory about the Lost Colony in North Carolina. You remember Sir Walter Raleigh and his attempt to settle that fair state in the 17th century. Well, eastern N.C. is where barbecue began in the U.S. of A. and I'm thinking that when Raleigh went back to England for supplies, those colonists just got too darn hungry and when the Okracoke Indians (some think named after Okra and Coke-- two Southern products) started smokin a pig, that smoked the white folks right out of their fort, and they went off to a pig pickin with the Indians, never to be seen again. I wonder if their grill looked something like this???
Last time I saw something like that was in Hawaii, only they had the poor pig buried in the ground (the opposite of pigs flying) sitting on coals and covered with palm leaves. He looked like a refugee from a Palm Sunday procession. Even Hawaiians have enough sense to know that you want pork on your fork when you're eatin' barbecue, although you have to question their eating it along with SPAM!
Stay tuned for further adventures taken from the Barbecue Chronicles where I tell you that someone crazy up in Owensboro Kentucky has been smoking mutton--- yes I said mutton, while looking sheepish :)