Carolinas Golf Magazine

FALL 2018

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D uring a round of golf, I'm careful to avoid certain topics of conver- sation that can spoil an other- wise good walk. Politics and religion? Strictly off-limits. But there is one thing about which I can offer a passionate opinion – and expect to receive strong and sometimes contrary viewpoints from my playing partners: Barbecue. Debating the different styles of what should be the official culinary offer- ing of the Carolinas is nearly as much fun as partaking in a big plate after the round. One of the most contentious debates in our great states re - volves around barbecue and its "proper preparation and presenta- tion. Regardless of your personal predilection, you'll probably agree with me when I say this: I love pig. There. I said it. And it feels good – and you probably feel the same way. So, now we can talk while we walk. First, let's establish some ground rules. Most importantly, barbecue is a noun, not a verb. Secondly, for the purposes of this narrative, barbecue refers strictly to pork, either chopped, pulled or sliced. Indulging in barbecue is a year- round endeavor, but its consumption becomes even more rabid in the fall, when football season is in full swing and basket- ball is just around the corner. Team allegiances be damned; your par- ticular tastes in pork prepared slow and low get to the core of your being. "It's hard enough in North Carolina to have a mixed marriage between a Univer- sity of North Carolina graduate and an N.C. State graduate," says my friend Tim Peeler, a bona fide barbecue aficionado. "But a mixed marriage between lovers of Eastern- style barbecue and Lexington-style? No way a baby's gonna come from that." There's no proof that the birth rate is lower – or divorce rate higher – along the lines of demarcation between regional barbecue preferences, but who wants to take that chance? W hat is not open to debate is that the secret to outstanding barbecue is cooking the meat at a low temperature for a long time, a method that produces a ten- der, succulent, smoke-flavored product that sends delighted consumers on repeated trips to the serving table. Particularly, as we are fond of saying in both North and South Cackalacky, when said barbecue comes with "all the fixins." What I've found is that barbecue is hap- pily consumed in any environment. Palate- pleasing pork is right at home next to rice pilaf and asparagus on a country club's fine china or equally as delectable when piled high next to cole slaw and baked beans on a Styrofoam plate at a fire department fundraiser. Just like golf, bad barbecue is better than no barbecue at all. There often are battle lines drawn between "pit masters" – the impressive title given those most gifted of pig smokers – as well as their devotees. In the eastern parts of the Carolinas, barbecue is vinegar- and-pepper based; in the west, ketchup and molasses often become part of the equation; and in some areas of South Carolina you'll find plenty of devotees to a mustard-based product. Truth be told, I've been fortunate enough to become personally acquainted with outstanding examples of each. While good barbecue can be found throughout the Carolinas, I'd strongly suggest that sim- ply getting lost is the best way to stumble upon a life-altering barbecue pit. Sure, there may be a handful of decent barbecue restaurants in some of the larger cities in the Carolinas, but the best typically are found in or near out-of-the- way locales such as Farmville, Dudley, Granite Quarry, Heming- way, Latta, Buffalo, Santee and Little Mountain. And the best of these places tend to be the simplest of places – the no-frills buildings where the telltale smoke from the pit around back tells you all you need to know. Of course, barbecue greatly predates golf in this part of the world. There is a community in rural Harnett County, N.C., known as "Barbecue," which also is home to the Barbecue Presbyterian Church. Said church is 260 years old, which gives further cre- dence to the T ar Heel State's claim that it is indeed the "Cradle of 'Cue." Barbecue lovers in the Palmetto State contend otherwise, as I've witnessed quite a few trucks (and yes, even a couple of sedans) sporting "Birthplace of Barbecue" bumper stickers. But can't we just all get along? My old pal Peeler believes so. "We can all band together and hate Alabama for their nasty white barbecue sauce," he says. And with that, I think we have finally reach a consensus. ■ 40 | | FA L L 2 0 1 8 F I NA L S AY Around Here, Barbecue is Always a Hot Topic There are some conversations that are best avoided on the golf course, but you can really get to know your fellow players when you confess your love for the 'cue BY SCOTT KEEPFER ILLUSTRATION BY BRAD WALKER

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