“For some years, I’m now prepared to admit, I somehow labored under the impression that Rocky Mount is the line of demarcation that separates the two principal schools of North Carolina barbecue. Wrong. The line of demarcation is….”
— From “In Defense of the True ’Cue: Keeping pork pure in North Carolina” by Calvin Trillin in The New Yorker (Nov. 2)
Who but the peripatetic Trillin could quote in a single (if lengthy) article not only such regional stalwarts as John Shelton Reed, Doug Marlette, Dennis Rogers and Jerry Bledsoe, but also Ada Louise Huxtable?
Kim Severson, Atlanta-based food reporter for the New York Times, calls it “a deceptively simple story about heat and meat…. I defy anyone but the staunchest vegetarians and kosher keepers to not want a pork sandwich after they read it.”
“In modern America, anyone who attempts to write satirically about the events of the day finds it difficult to concoct a situation so bizarre that it may not actually come to pass while his article is still on the presses.”
— The “(Harry) Golden Rule,” as posited by New Yorker writer Calvin Trillin
High on my personal list of underappreciated North Carolinians is Harry Golden, the Charlotte author and journalist whose proposals such as the Vertical Integration Plan hilariously exposed the vulnerability of segregationist doctrine.
Today at 2:30 p.m. a North Carolina highway marker will be unveiled at Golden’s home in the Elizabeth neighborhood, Seventh Street and Hawthorne Lane.
Just wondering: How ought Trillin’s “still on the presses” be updated for the digital age?
“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)