“Led by Jonas R. Kunst, a fellow at Oslo University’s Institute of Psychology, researchers found that descriptive terms such as ‘beef’ and ‘pork’ created emotional distance between consumers and the animals they were preparing to eat.
“By alienating the animal through euphemism, these less representative terms made it much easier for consumers to eat meat. By contrast, the terms ‘cow’ and ‘pig’ — direct references to the living animal — brought the consumer closer to the reality of what one psychologist has called the ‘face on your plate.’ This intimacy lessened the desire to eat meat….”
— From “Pork or Pig: Words Can Hurt You, Especially if You’re an Animal” by James McWilliams at Pacific Standard (Nov. 4)
Wonder how Professor Kunst might evaluate the emotional distancing of diners at such indelicately-named barbecue joints as Pigman’s in Kill Devil Hills, Pik-n-Pig in Carthage, Little Pigs in Newton or The Pig in Chapel Hill….
“[Author and blogger Joe] Haynes asserts that the popular North Carolina style is the result of a culinary crime, noting in [“Virginia Barbecue: A History”] that, among other things, ‘When settlers first moved into what is today North Carolina, it was known at that time as Virginia’s Southern Plantation.’
“In person, Haynes is more direct: ‘North Carolina kidnapped Virginia barbecue.’ “
— From “Where did barbecue begin? Virginia, he says” by Jim Shahin in the Washington Post (Aug. 28)
Curiously, Haynes’s book neglects to mention uber Virginian William Byrd’s backhanded acknowledgement of North Carolina’s barbecue primacy.
“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.”
“Even if they cook over wood [rather than gas], some new places’ inclusion of ribs (not traditional in old-line barbecue joints) and brisket (from Texas, whose barbecue North Carolinians profess to despise) has created what [John Shelton] Reed dubs the International House of Barbecue. Even if they cook over wood, will new places serve a generic version of mediocre barbecue?
“Some North Carolinians also rue barbecue’s gentrification, which in some cases has turned it from a working man’s food to a pricey night out. Disappearing are the mom-and-pop places, where prices are cheap and the patrons reflect the breadth of a town’s population.
“If traditional barbecue dies, part of North Carolina dies with it….”
— From “Why North Carolina’s barbecue scene is still smoldering” by Jim Shahin in the Washington Post (Sept. 21)
“It’s unfortunate to begin “Cooked” [by Michael Pollan] with a section about fire, since the world of barbecue is such a world of showboating. In this realm, ‘O.K., but that’s not barbecue,’ is a serious insult, and Ed Mitchell, who ‘just might be the first pit master to have handlers,’ refers to his own biography as ‘the Ed Mitchell story.’ Mr. Mitchell drops the word ‘authentic’ so often that Mr. Pollan begins to fear ‘that I’d opened the spigot on a hydrant of barbecue blarney.’ Nevertheless, he ventures to Wilson, N.C., to learn how to cook a whole hog over a fire.”
— From “Finally, Maybe, We Are What We Cook” by Janet Maslin in the New York Times (April 15)
“The carvers splash the pulled pork with the house barbecue sauce, which balances sugar with vinegar and mustard; [restaurant owner Hugh] Mangum calls it Texalina because it blends the styles of Texas and North Carolina….”
–– From “Big League BBQ Arrives,” restaurant review by Pete Wells in the New York Times (March 5)
Not unexpectedly, Wells’ paean to East Village barbecue has stirred a stampede of online naysayers, including “Matthew from North Carolina,” who asks, “Lemme guess, $25 for a chopped plate with slaw and potato salad?”
Can “Texalina”-style barbecue sauce be for real? Or is it a culinary cousin of the jackalope? Paging John Shelton Reed!
— Art Pope profile clarified … praised … and panned as “tendentious, poorly-researched, and weakly argued.”
— Is Pinehurst risking its National Historic Landmark status?
— In Los Angeles Times, Charleston chef deconstructs Texas governor’s insult to North Carolina barbecue.
— Remembering Charlie Justice’s last interview.
— “If you chase barbecue dreams, someday, somewhere you’ll find yourself this way, too, sitting on a rusty folding chair in a town you’d never driven through before, eating vinegar-drenched lukewarm meat and sweet fried hush puppies from a foam tray. There’s no music. There’s no beer. But you take another bite with your plastic fork and think, damn, this is good.”
— Ah, to be birdwatching when they don’t flock together.
— Walt Disney’s dubious detour.
— C’mon, you can’t resist clicking on “The Mormon Jersey Shore.”
— We collectors are “funny ducks sometimes”…. sometimes?
— Tourism insurgents: “There’s more to Mount Airy than Mayberry.”
— Barbecue Confidential: “It’s so minimalist — dressed with only a little bit of vinegar, salt and pepper. It’s hard to argue with that.”
— But really, Mr. Bourdain, for an old-fashioned barbecue tempeh sandwich you still can’t beat Asheville.