On the right side of Rocky Mount — at last

“For years, whenever I returned to New York from visits to North Carolina and failed to bubble with enthusiasm while reporting on my barbecue eating to the displaced Carolinians I knew, they would question me about precisely where in the state I had been.

“Then they’d solemnly inform me that I had eaten west of Rocky Mount and the superior barbecue in North Carolina is east of Rocky Mount — unless I’d been east of Rocky Mount, in which case I was informed that every bit of the North Carolina barbecue you wouldn’t throw rocks at is found west of Rocky Mount. I finally concluded that someone who grew up in Kansas City is unlikely to make it to the right side of Rocky Mount….

“[In 2002] while tucking into the barbecue provided by E. R. Mitchell of Mitchell’s Bar-B-Q in Wilson, North Carolina, I realized that I had finally gotten myself on the right side of Rocky Mount.”

— From “Feeding a Yen: Savoring Local Specialties from Kansas City to Cuzco”  by Calvin Trillin (2004)

3 thoughts on “On the right side of Rocky Mount — at last”

  1. I have to totally disagree. (Of course, who am I to disagree with Mr. Trillin?) However, while I enjoy Eastern NC barbecue, I savor, relish, and cherish Lexington-style barbecue. Other opinions?

  2. A BBQ post!!!

    When it comes to pork, styled east or west,
    I’ll eat ’em both with equal zest.
    And I must have, gotta have, cornmeal blessed
    to rise, hush and puppied, hot-oil-possessed,
    alongside slaw (white or red), potatoes fried–and when I’m dead,
    waft the smoke gently by my grave or–
    I might fly without a savor.

  3. Apparently the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools’ curriculum on North Carolina for 4th graders includes a discussion of barbecue — even the differences between eastern and western styles. Our 4th grader last night told us that her NC history lesson that day was about barbecue. She then went on to tell us about the difference between vinegar-based and tomato-based sauces. She also mentioned a mayonnaise-based sauce. But I’m wondering if the lesson had turned to cole slaw at that point.

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