BBQ

I found some old blog posts from a Folklore class I took in graduate school. I thought a couple of these might be of interest still … and maybe generate some discussion.

I realize this may be a tired old topic for those of you originally from North Carolina, but I have to say the first thing that came to mind is Eastern North Carolina Barbecue.

I don’t want to insult anyone here who might be an expert on the topic, but if you don’t know what it is or why it is different, the short version is that ENC Barbecue is made from chopped pig (not an old hog) meat, usually and primarily from the shoulder and seasoned with red pepper and vinegar. An excellent example of this is served daily at B’s Barbecue in Greenville, on the edge of town, appropriately enough on B’s BBQ Road (which should lend some idea of how important an institution this cinder block dive is to local culture).

Most everyone from the coast to about Raleigh calls this dish “North Carolina Barbecue.” Any point west of that, they do different stuff to it, usually something closer to Western North Carolina Barbecue — same cuts of meat, except they are doused in ketchup. Each region repulses the other with its version. Some people — usually spineless — claim to like both. Impossible. And, improbable.

If you go on further west to Tennessee, they often take the same cuts of meat and douse it with mustard. Texans use beef. Kansas City uses beef ribs. There are more examples and they cause rivalries. Of course, it is an argument no one can win and everyone wins, because each person’s “region” does it right.

So who is right? It all depends on where you are from. It is interesting how most people, no matter how cynical they might be to their area, town or state, are very loyal when it comes to local food. How else do you defend chili on top of spaghetti noodles?

I always thought of this as a “regional rivalry” issue and never considered it as part of a larger genre of “folklore” … until these assigned readings. This type of thinking has driven me crazy over the last week as I am now having to look at some many things as part of folklore — which I believe that most people like me consider to be comprised of old wives tales, superstitions, home remedies, primitive art, songs, expressions, sayings and urban legends.

As a creative writer, I am excited about the color and flavor this will add to my writing … and all the ways I can — and already have — annoyed my friends by interrupting their stories by pointing out what part of what he/she is talking about is actually folklore. So, bonus!