– READ THIS NOW: This doozy of an article in this week’s New Yorker from James Beard-nominated writer Lauren Collins explores America’s most political food; it was based on a Charlotte Observer article from the awesome Kathleen Purvis on Maurice’s Piggy Park from last December
In 1964, Maurice Bessinger was the president of the National Association for the Preservation of White People. On August 12th of that year, Anne Newman and a friend drove to the West Columbia Piggie Park. They stopped outside the lot for curbside service. A waitress emerged and, seeing that they were black, returned to the building without speaking to them. Then a man with a pad approached the car but refused to take their order, even though white customers were being served. In Newman v. Piggie Park Enterprises, Inc., the district court asserted that “the fact that Piggie Park at all six of its eating places denies full and equal service to Negroes because of their race is uncontested and completely established by evidence,” but it concluded that the restaurants, because they were principally drive-ins, weren’t subject to the public-accommodation provision of the Civil Rights Act. When a higher court reversed the ruling, Bessinger appealed to the Supreme Court, claiming that being forced to serve black people violated his religious principles. He lost, in a unanimous decision.
– The Atlanta Journal Constitution reviews Texas-style Das BBQ; our review to come in a couple of weeks
– A sneak peek at the Juan Luis menu from John Lewis; the Tex-Mex spinoff will open in downtown Charleston later this spring
– A McRib-style sandwich made with actual smoked rib meat
– Grant tries some decent chopped beef at Hwy 58 BBQ in Ooltewah, TN
– Eater: 17 Essential Dallas-Fort Worth Barbecue Destinations
– Chef Vivian Howard’s favorite barbecue restaurants include B’s Barbecue and Skylight Inn
– Confirmation that Chef Jim Noble’s barbecue restaurant has gone mobile
– Fuller’s Old Fashioned Barbecue has reopened in Fayetteville after the original Lumberton location closed due to damage from Hurricane Matthew
– EDIA Maps is selling a NC BBQ and Beer Map combo pack
For the second year running, Free Range Brewing and Order/Fire combined powers to host a premiere screening of an episode of the web series with a pig pickin’ to follow. While last year’s episode featured four NC breweries (Burial Beer Co., Fonta Flora Brewery, Fullsteam Brewery, and Free Range Brewing), this year’s episode was on Sam Jones and Skylight Inn. Sam joined the festivities and smoked a 230 pound hog the night before for the pig pickin’. The whole shindig and its $10 suggested donation for the barbecue benefited the Community Culinary School of Charlotte, so there was an abundance of reasons to make it out to Free Range on a Sunday afternoon.
The 40 or so minute episode of Order/Fire was primarily a discussion between Sam and host Mark Jacksina that took place at Skylight Inn with topics ranging from the history of Sam’s family and barbecue to his first experiences gaining exposure outside of Ayden and his involvement with the Fatback Collective. It was a casual conversation between the two, with Sam peppering in his usual mix of one-liners and idioms. The packed house enjoyed the screening and you can view it here once it is made available online.
Now the first time I tasted Sam Jones’s barbecue, it was at when he smoked a whole hog at Midwood Smokehouse’s Southern ‘Cue Supper in 2013 and the whole hog literally (actually figuratively) blew my mind. I had not yet tasted cracklin’ skin mixed in with whole hog barbecue and absolutely loved that texture. The whole thing was a “revelatory experience” I hadn’t been able to try in the 3.5 years since. That is, until this day, and it definitely did not disappoint in the slightest. I’m still thinking about that pork as I type this, as a matter of fact.
Afterwards, I made a resolution: I will visit Skylight Inn and Sam Jones BBQ in 2017. Mark it down.
– Skylight Inn and Heirloom Market Bar-B-Que make the list
– Marie, Let’s Eat! goes deep on the old Coleman’s BBQ chain, which used to have 176 stores across the southeast but is now down to just 2 in Mississippi
– From Robert Moss, a history of how the beef rib became an Instagram star
– The Charlotte Pitmasters, at least for July 15
– Cheerwine’s Centennial Celebration in Salisbury on May 20 will have a “People’s Choice BBQ Competition”
– Speaking of which, here’s the story of how Cheerwine came to be 100 years ago from Our State Magazine as well as Eater
Not that we’re anywhere close to being qualified enough to evaluate books but more so as a public service announcement we will periodically discuss barbecue and barbecue-related books.
A collection of profiles on whole hog pitmasters throughout the southeast, “The One True Barbecue” by Rien Fertel is an enjoyable if not somewhat controversial read. In particular, Fertel ruffled feathers with his chapters on Wilber Shirley and Ed Mitchell. He portrayed the former’s restaurant as a joint with a racial division of labor between the front of the house and the back and the latter as a marketing gimmick in overalls that cooks hogs in a non-traditional manner (hot and fast rather than the traditional low and slow). However fair Fertel’s representation may or may not be (and he is but one man with his opinion), the fact that he spoke with neither for the purposes of this book only added more embers to the burn barrel.
Fertel ties the profiles together through narrative, following his path from New Orleans to the Carolinas and back, with even a stop in Bushwick to visit Arrogant Swine. Each chapter not only explores the pitmaster(s) themselves but in some cases the history of an entire town with Ayden, NC and its two joints Skylight Inn and Bum’s. He particularly favors Scott’s-Parker’s Barbecue in Lexington, TN, visiting with pitmaster Ricky Parker in the first chapter and then his sons after his death in the last chapter. In between, Fertel visits 12 other whole hog joints in Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi, and the aforementioned Arrogant Swine in NY.
I enjoyed Fertel’s writing and found this to be a quick read that I devoured over just a few sittings. Fertel cut his teeth writing oral histories for The Southern Foodways Alliance, and his experience writing on southern food showed. A small complaint would be that the only color photographs are confined to a section at the center of the book – I would have loved to see them throughout as opposed to the smaller black and white ones within the chapters. In any case, I can’t recommend “The One True Barbecue” enough.
– TMBBQ on the italian influences of Texas BBQ in Waco
– An inside look at day one at Rodney Scott’s BBQ last week
– It opened without a hitch after a day or two of soft opening
– If you missed last week’s Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern as they traveled to Buxton Hall and Fox Bros among others on the “Southern BBQ Trail”, you have a couple more chances to check it out
– Speaking of which, Zimmern has some goodies from his stops available at his website
– Marie, Let’s Eat! visits the Athens, TN location of the Buddy’s Bar-B-Q chain and left unimpressed
– An oldie but goodie from Our State
– A few more stops in the Carolina’s for Grant: Stephenson’s Bar-B-Q in Willow Spring, Skylight Inn in Ayden, and Sweatman’s Bar-B-Que down in Holly Hill, SC
– Robert Moss has an introduction to Georgia BBQ to kickoff Georgia BBQ Week, which Grant will surely love
– Coming to West Nashville soon from Pitmaster Pat Martin
– Daniel Vaughn of TMBBQ muses on a couple of easy rules for barbecue line etiquette
– From last month, Destination BBQ has an interview with Daniel Doyle of Poogan’s Smokehouse in Charleston
– The highly-anticipated Scott’s BBQ has broken ground at its Charleston location
– John Shelton Reed has a pretty out there barbecue theory on why Donald Trump carried the state of NC and I’ll just let him have at it
The latest, he told me the other day, was Hillary Clinton’s choice of a barbecue stop in Charlotte at the end of the presidential campaign. She and President Obama ate at the Midwood Smokehouse. It has a varied and upscale menu, but it is not a traditional barbecue eatery. Meanwhile, Donald Trump was buying one of those $3.50 barbecue sandwiches at Stamey’s in Greensboro.
“Maybe Clinton’s choice sold in Charlotte,” Reed said, “but the rest of the state was thinking Drumpf was eating at a real North Carolina barbecue stop, a big reason he won and she lost.
– This week in “that’s so NC” barbecue: a new barbecue joint called Redneck Barbecue Lab will take over a space that formerly housed a Dairy Queen attached to a BP off I-40 in McGee’s Crossroads
– NY Times’ 13 essential barbecue stops includes Lexington Barbecue
– Speaking of Lexington, the city’s marketing campaign is apparently paying off
– Photos from last week’s 87th Mallard Creek Annual BBQ
– Stiles Switch BBQ & Brew in Austin is expanding but the new location won’t simply be “Stiles Switch 2” according to its owner
– New York Times writer Ethan Hauser: I Hopped a Plane Just for a Barbecue Sandwich. I’d Do It Again.
I can tell you with complete assurance that 532 miles is not too far to travel for a sandwich. That is the distance between my home in Ridgewood, Queens, and theSkylight Inn in Ayden, N.C., where a man in a black apron fills the cutout between the kitchen and the cash register and wields cleavers as if they were weapons from “Game of Thrones,” one in each substantial hand.
Eater and The Southern Foodways Alliance visit Ayden, NC:
This week’s pick from Southern Foodways Alliance’s documentary program profiles Skylight Inn BBQ, once named the “capital of barbecue” in America by National Geographic. The all-wood, whole-pig production at Skylight Inn has been family-run for three generations, and it’s renown (for quality, flavor, and values) extends far beyond the city limits of Ayden, North Carolina.
– In response to this infamous Eater post last week, Robert Moss reluctantly defends brisket as “barbecue”
Such manifestos are nothing new. Barbecue scribblers have been making inflammatory statements about one regional style or another for as long as we’ve had barbecue scribblers. These days, I imagine, they do wonders for web traffic, but do they do much for the larger cause of barbecue?
– Part 2 of the I-26 guide to SC barbecue
– As part of the deluge of content from Eater’s Barbecue Week, here’s a guide to regional barbecue sauces
– A coarse chopped tray from Lexington #1 and a large whole hog tray from Skylight Inn makes Eater’s 23 Essential Barbecue Dishes in America
– More from Eater: Grady’s Bar-B-Q in Dudley from contributor Robert Donovan
– Available for pre-order now
– The winners from the Blue Ridge Barbecue and Music Festival from earlier in June
– No new information here, but more confirmation about Ed Mitchell’s new barbecue venture in Raleigh’s Brier Creek neighborhood as well as his food truck
– As he moves from Atlanta to Chattanooga, Grant weighs in on the greatness of Georgia barbecue
– Daniel Vaughn’s best Texas barbecue bites in 2015
– Upcoming Durham restaurant openings include Picnic, a “modern take on barbecue joint” set to open in early February as well as a “biscuit and barbecue concept” at the American Tobacco Complex
– Franklin Barbecue is on this list of Austin restaurants that are opting out of open carry; on the other end of the spectrum, Brooks Place in Houston is giving open carry patrons 25% off
– Midwood Smokehouse is one of the restaurants who have expanded from the uptown area to the ‘burbs
– The year in Kansas City barbecue
– Rodney Scott gives thanks