Starting in Lenoir County, NC and making stops elsewhere in North Carolina as well as Tennessee, Florida, and Texas, Chef Vivian Howard seeks to expand her barbecue palette beyond eastern North Carolina whole hog and barbecued chicken.
I do love that while Chef Howard visits her good friend Sam Jones at Skylight Inn, she highlights the side of barbecue not often seen in barbecue media from turkey barbecue that’s becoming increasingly popular in African American communities to female pitmasters in a male dominated field to smoked fish to restaurants in Texas that celebrate the fusion of barbecue from different cultures.
At the very least, be sure to luxuriate in the Florida section where Chef Howard attends a “Cracker barbecue” (21:20) – don’t worry, they explain the name – as well as a smoked mullet competition (25:14).
Southerners are particular about the way they cook and eat barbecue. No dish says eastern North Carolina more than the region’s signature whole hog barbecue; however, the art of cooking meat over fire and smoke is one shared by all cultures. On a tour of eastern North Carolina barbecue joints, Vivian is reminded of traditions that define the area’s version of pork barbecue while being introduced to new techniques.
Flipping what she already knows about ‘cue, Vivian sets out to uncover buried barbecue histories and to learn about the unexpected ways that different types of meat are smoked, pit-cooked, wood-fired and eaten. We learn that barbecue—both the food and the verb— cannot be pigeonholed into one definition. On her journey starting from the whole-hog pits in her figurative backyard, Vivian learns the history of Black barbecue entrepreneurship, from the North Carolina families who started turkey barbecue to the women firing up pits in Brownsville and Memphis, Tennessee.
Curious about other iterations, Vivian travels to the west coast of Florida, where a storied “Cracker” history at a smoked mullet festival drastically changes her perspective on Southern ‘cue. She then heads further south to Texas, where robust barbecue techniques steeped in tradition are being morphed by longtime Texas families doing what they know best. This includes a pair of sisters in the small southern Texas town of San Diego adding a Tejano touch to their barbecue joint menu, and two Japanese-Texan brothers with a smokehouse that pairs brisket and bento boxes.
From this Charlotte Observer article on Noble Smoke’s opening, I found out the interesting tidbit that Joe Kindred (of Kindred and Hello, Sailor) used to work for Jim Noble
He started getting serious about opening a barbecue restaurant around 2008, but he kept getting delayed. Joe Kindred, a former intern for Noble who has since opened his own restaurants, remembers going all across the state with Noble and stopping at barbecue places along the way.
Daniel Vaughn says the best thing on the menu at Franklin Barbecue is the beef rib
My 31-year-old son and I spent a muggy, buggy summer week driving the Tar Heel State’s highways and back roads to search out its most flavorful pork. Tucking in our napkins at seven spots in six days, we experienced a slice of Americana as thick as the smoke that infused the meat before us, rubbing shoulders with generations of barbecue royalty in the process.
Barbecue in Miami can be hard to grasp or define. Other than a few places, most of what one might call barbecue here is more a Georgia-style hybrid of grilling and smoking either baby-back ribs or whole chickens. The rare spots that give brisket or pork the dozen-plus hours of pure smoke that’s synonymous with Texas or Carolina barbecue are faithfully trying to replicate an established style. With their Jupiña mop sauce, black-as-night Malta barbecue sauce, and pork belly burnt ends ($10), Briceño and Honore have finally invented a style of barbecue synonymous with Miami.