From the Editor: August 2019

While I generally enjoy life as a magazine editor, writing about the Peak City Pig Fest for this issue was especially fun. Not only did I get to meet some fascinating people, but they kept asking if I wanted something to eat!

Why yes, thank you.

Photographer Jonathan Fredin and I hung out with the judges at the Halle Cultural Arts Center, and we were lucky enough to sample some of the entries. Weeks later, my mouth waters at the thought of the pork shoulder — some of the most succulent pig I’ve ever eaten.

But once I roused myself from my meat coma, it occurred to me that much of what I had sampled that day — while delicious — tasted pretty much the same.

That’s not what I love about barbecue. As one of America’s quintessential summer dishes, barbecue’s regional differences should be celebrated.

Growing up in St. Louis, grilling meant bratwursts slathered in sauerkraut and tender pork steaks, dripping with sticky, sweet sauce. For those not from the Midwest, pork steaks are carved from the shoulder or Boston butt, usually oven-baked in the sauce until tender and finished on the grill.

In my twenties, my first job took me to Abilene, Texas, where I discovered that smoked beef was also mighty nice – especially when it came to ribs and brisket.

Eventually, I landed in North Carolina where I learned that barbecue was a noun, not a verb, and referred only to pulled pork. I owe much of my education to my Southern husband, who is handy with a smoker and whose pig is renowned among our friends and neighbors.

But while I love the barbecue of my adopted home state, I still look forward to trips home and the dishes I can only get there.

So, while a weekend of Kansas City style barbecue was entertaining, I’ll take the homestyle ’cue – wherever I happen to be.

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