Tuesday, August 24, 2004

The power of barbecue 

I gave up a lot of things when I moved from Manhattan to Charlottesville, but one of the things I gained was the ability to get good barbecue, one of the only foods not readily available in Manhattan. I've been told that local EPA restrictions prevent the kind of smokers necessary to produce the real thing in Manhattan. Urban myth, perhaps, but Pierson's Texas Barbecue in Queens seemed to be able to deliver what Manhattan restaurants could not, so maybe there is something to that.

Down here in Virginia, there are many viable barbecue options, although sometimes you must sniff around. Once day I followed a lead and discovered a small, charmless hole in the wall called Hog Heaven hidden behind a Wendy's up on Rt 29 in Ruckersville. HH indeed yielded great pulled pork, although their KC ribs fell a bit short. The journey is half the fun, however, and I look forward to sampling a place called Blue Ridge Pig down in Nelson County.

I was prompted to write this after I stumbled upon an article entitled Barbecue threat to Palestinian hunger strikers (hat tip: The Smoke Ring). At first I was impressed that the Israelis were resourceful enough to resort to barbecue as a means to break a hunger strike. Genius! I clicked on the link mainly out of curiosity as to whether their cultural sensitivity would lead them to offer their prisoners Texas beef brisket, or whether they were torturing them with pulled pork.

Imagine my horror to read that they were just throwing meat on a grill! Clearly barbecue has a very different meaning in the Middle East than it does down here south of the Mason Dixon.

There's grilling, and there's barbecue, but please don't confuse the two.


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