A pretty good case could be made that I have been neglecting my duties as Food Editor ( BBQ and hot dogs ) since I fired Mrs. RamFanatic who briefly held the same position. It doesn't seem to have bothered her much, I guess because she never applied for the job in the first place. It was what we call a "bad fit." She is an excellent cook but she does not enjoy writing and associated things like I do so I guess it was better for everyone that we ended the relationship. I'm talking about the editorship here and not our marriage. Her cooking doesn't seem to have suffered at all.
There have been quite a few developments recently in the world of BBQ and it's as though the whole world has just discovered NC BBQ.
First, my broker bought me a magazine that contained an article about N.C. BBQ. For some reason, I have never gotten comfortable using the term "my broker." it's sort of like saying my interior decorator or my groundskeeper, neither of which I have. It registers with me as being a little pretentious, and I expect that it comes from my raisings where nobody that I knew owned any stocks and they sure didn't have a broker. Keep in mind that I was born right in the middle of the Great Depression and that could account for the fact that my family was not very well acquainted with stocks and bonds.
Back to the broker. He bought me a copy of a magazine with which I was not familiar called "Chile Pepper." It is published out of Fort Worth, Texas but the June edition had an article on "Carolina 'Cue." It concerned itself primarily, if not solely, with western or Lexington style BBQ but my broker didn't buy me the magazine for the information on BBQ. In the article, there was a section on Cheerwine and he and I have discussed that subject on many occasions. Chile Pepper says that Cheerwine is "a burgundy red bubbly, cherry concoction." They say Cheerwine is a perfect compliment to the vinegar taste of BBQ which is rather strange since they didn't review a BBQ location any further east in N.C. than Greensboro. They weren't disrespectful though and I always appreciate that. I used to care what outsiders thought about N.C. BBQ but no more. If outsiders or newcomers like it, fine. But if they don't, it doesn't bother me a bit. I am past the stage in life where I feel that in order for a person to like me, they have to like what I like. Same thing goes for country music.
Another development has been the publicity given N.C. BBQ by Southern Living Magazine. In early spring, a special edition of SL came out entitled "Southern Living Favorites" and contained an article with the title of "BBQ Across The South." The article reviews BBQ in the different sections of the South and mentions the following establishments in N.C. :
Wilburs (Goldsboro), Kings (Kinston), Stameys (Greensboro),Bill Spoons (Charlotte) Alston Bridges (Shelby), Barbecue Center (Lexington), Speedys BBQ (Lexington), and Stameys (Lexington), Again it looks like western style was favored over eastern but I like them both even though I prefer eastern since that's what I was raised on.
Then on May 20th, Southern Living came out with a special edition entitled "Barbecue, Our Ultimate Guide." It contains 92 recipes and is a must for real BBQ lovers. There are a couple of recipes I want to try and a couple I don't want to try. Banana pudding made with condensed milk is one that I want to try and the Barbecue Sundae is one that I will pass on. The N.C. locations mentioned here are: Barbecue Center (Lexington), Speedy's (Lexington) Lexington BBQ, Allen and Son (Chapel Hill and Pittsboro), Wilburs (Goldsboro), Bill's BBQ (Wilson) Whitleys (more about this place later), Rick and Tina Sauls (Harbinger) and the Skylight Inn (Ayden).
I was not familiar with Whitley's in Murfreesboro so Dave and I took off recently to check it out. I don't know how this place has escaped me because it has been there just south of Murfreesboro on Rt. # 11 for over 40 years but believe me, it will hold its own with any that I have visited. And to top it off, it is owned and operated by a UNC grad (UNC Class of '61. The building reminded me a little of the old Bob Melton's building and it has not been guilty of getting too fancy. We hit it on a day when it is not normally open ( open on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday) but luckily we found the owner, Ruth Whitley, there and she let us in and fixed us a sandwich. It was as good as I have ever tasted and Dave, who likes BBQ all right but is not the nut that I am, said he could eat a second one but probably shouldn't. He didn't but believe me, what he said was a compliment. And desert, which I couldn't have because of my blood sugar problem, was either homemade banana or strawberry ice cream. Dave did have some of the banana and I could tell from the look on his face and his groans that he thought it was first class.
While at Whitleys, Ruth showed me a relatively new book by Jim Early, an attorney in Winston-Salem, entitled "The Best Tar Heel BBQ, From Manteo to Murphy." The books were originally available in Lowes Grocery Stores and I'm told that they are not available from Barnes and Noble. I plan to talk with Mr. Early soon and I will provide more information on how these books can be purchased. For anyone with more than a passing interest in BBQ, this book is a must.
When I pulled up to Whitleys, Ruth must have seen my UNC license plates because shortly after we entered and introduced ourselves, she said "I'm a Ram, too." I couldn't help but think of the situation with Jessica Lynch when she was rescued. "I'm an American soldier too." were probably the most famous words to come out of the Iraq war and undoubtedly will appear in history books for years to come.
One last development. Andy's in Richmond ( original one) on Old Williamsburg Rd. is now closed because of a problem with the lease. There is, however, another Andy's in a strip mall on the Airport Motor Mile on Laburnum Ave. and it is first class. I talked with the owner and his wife for quite a while and they are both quite knowledgeable about BBQ even though they are not from N.C. The BBQ at Andy's is top tier and, to my knowledge, is the only place in the Richmond area that serves eastern style N.C. BBQ.
More after I get my book by Mr. Early.