Pork Above Politics

Rick Perry isn’t fond, but Matt Shipman says pit-smoked pork barbecue with a vinegar-based sauce is the only way to go.

Jay Cuthrell

You may have heard recently about remarks GOP contender Rick Perry made many years ago, comparing North Carolina-style barbecue unfavorably with road kill. That got me to thinking: as the political rhetoric heats up over the next year, let’s focus on some of the things that bind us all together. Like barbecue.

Whether you spell it with a C or a Q, we can all agree that it is first and foremost a noun—not a verb. We can also agree that true barbecue is pork. You can keep your beef BBQ in Texas, Gov. Perry. We do it differently here.

Growing up in Petersburg, my family’s favorite barbecue joint was King’s on South Crater Road. I haven’t eaten there in years, but if memory serves they dished up pit-smoked pork barbecue, with a vinegar-based sauce and coleslaw. In other words, very much like the barbecue served throughout eastern North Carolina. All other barbecue styles pale in comparison.

A good friend of mine, and fellow Petersburg native, Mike Smith now lives up north (New York, no less) and has had his hopes dashed more than once after hearing about a “great barbecue place” in the Big Apple. As he told me recently, “There’s a lot of toasted meat with glorified ketchup passing itself off as the real thing.”

I know that I said I wanted to focus on what brings us together, and tomato-based sauce has its devotees, so I’ll wrap it up on a note that we can all truly agree on: nothing goes with barbecue like sweet tea.

Now, pass the hushpuppies.

Try the author’s family’s favorite barbecue:

King’s Famous Barbecue

2910 South Crater Road, Petersburg


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