November 12, 2002
Gone With the Wind
: Has the Once-Towering Genre of Southern Literature Lost Its Compass? (Linton Weeks, November 11, 2002, Washington Post)
The vinegar-based sauce at Allen & Son Barbeque near here is tangy, but it's no tastier than the tomato-based baste you can get at Washington area pulled-pork parlors, such as Red, Hot & Blue.
Barbecue used to be a regional delicacy, a Southern thang. Now it belongs to all of America and you can find really good 'cue just about anywhere. Even Gaithersburg.
Same's true with what used to be called Southern literature.
It's good and it's nationwide.
Take Lee Smith's new novel, "The Last Girls," published by Chapel Hill-based Algonquin Books in September. It has all the trappings -- a clutch of alumnae of a fictitious Blue Ridge Mountain women's college, a trip on a riverboat down the Mississippi, a dead woman named Baby.
There was a time when everyone would have hailed the book as a fine Southern yarn.
That time is gone.
One of the little understood strengths of America is that, even if it took a hundred and fifty years, people do move on. Look at a Kosovo or at Osama and you can see what happens when the past continues to fester in the body politic.
Posted by Orrin Judd at November 12, 2002 10:16 AM
That insult ot Allen & Son and Eastern NC BBQ will not stand! Typical DC provincialism, trying to attack superior food.
I'll await the Post's articles about how really good blue crabs can be found everywhere, with a followup on the ease of getting a good cheesesteak everywhere. We can continue on to every regional delicacy.
Cheesesteaks aren't exactly rocket science.
You can get live blue crabs and cheesesteaks even on Maui, but I wouldn't call either one of them choice.
But, hell, I went to the highest rated seafood restaurant in Charleston last month for she-crab soup and got cream of crab soup which wasn't very good. Had to go to Hank's for excellent she-crab soup.
Not even all of the South is still Southern. We do move on, as Orrin says.
Cheesesteaks may not be rocket science, but good BBQ is difficult. I have been to Allen & Son's, and I have been to several of Red Hot & Blue locations. RH&B is a fine restaurant, especially if you are in a place that doesn't have real NC BBQ. But it's just not nearly as good as Allen & Son.
We'll grant you the BBQ argument.
Good, because we haven't even gotten around to discussing _Western_ North Carolina barbecue yet (though I prefer the Eastern pig-pickin' style myself; if you're ever down I-95 and are going through Roanoke Rapids, NC, stop at Ralph's). Those who have been exposed to North Carolina BBQ sneer foreveraftermore at tomato-sauce-based Texas BBQ. :)
I've been to Ralph's, though not for decades.
But not better than Stubby's Hik'ry Pit in
Hot Springs (the old original one downtown,
not the new one out on the highway).
Comparing the two styles is like preferring
chocolate over vanilla or vice versa.
I've never seen my Tarheel father and mother in law fight until we were at the Outer Banks one summer and they proceeded to have a mutual tantrum over who's buying the BBQ and where.
"Pigman's is just hacked up meat with vinegar on it!"
"That stuff you buy, they put too much sugar in and it tastes like desert!"
My Iowa born sister in law and I just sat and stared as the unpleasantness went on for five minutes. The result was both of them going out and buying "their brand". We ended up with so much BBQ that week that we had to freeze it and bring it back to NM.