By: Cindy Scott
If you’ve sunken your teeth into Traveler‘s September issue, you’ve surely noticed the delectable food trails we featured. Love Louisiana gumbo? Craving Vermont cheddar? You’ll find delicious, state-specific travel ideas for footloose foodies in our Taste of Travel section this month. On page 40, we highlight the North Carolina Barbecue Society’s North Carolina Historic Barbecue Trail, which can direct you to 24 of the state’s finest BBQ establishments spread far and wide over some 500 miles. But if that doesn’t satisfy your palate for pulled pork, coleslaw, and sweet tea, here are some more tips for the truly ‘cue-crazy aficionado looking to hit the pavement:
- Peter Kaminsky traveled across North Carolina to research his book, Pig Perfect, and ate barbecue for at least one meal per day–sometimes more. He documented his experience for Food & Wine and revealed the secret behind how he decided which eateries to patronize. “I chose the joints I chose because (a) the guy at the gas station told me where he goes, (b) a chef knew where the Little League teams always eat after practice, or (c) there were a lot of trucks filling the parking lot and spilling out onto the road,” Kaminsky writes. Read his recommendations here.
- It’s best to brush up on your history before hitting the road. And the history of NC barbecue’s development reveals a great divide between two distinctive cooking styles–eastern and western. You’ve got to be educated about this controversial issue before picking a restaurant or placing an order. Western-style ‘cue is traditionally comprised of pork shoulders (rich, dark meat) in a ketchup-based sauce, while eastern-style makes use of the whole hog (light and dark meat) slathered in a sauce that’s vinegar-based.Serious BBQ eaters and cooks have debated the different preparation techniques for generations, and their disagreement can be bitter and grave (Don’t believe me? Check out this Washington Post article). Try both styles to peg your preference. Then, target your road trip to the side of the state that corresponds.
- Plenty of bloggers keep a watchful eye (and taste buds) on the North Carolina BBQ beat. You can always find recent reviews and recommendations, as well as information on upcoming BBQ festivals, restaurant openings, and more at blogs like BBQ Jew and NC Barbecue Musings. Or peruse the forums at Chowhound.
Already a North Carolina barbecue junkie? Weigh in here on your favorite eating spots, sauces, and cooking secrets. Don’t hog your knowledge!
Photo: Kramchang via Flickr