An article in yesterday's New York Times praised the South's traditional "slow food": pit-cooked pork barbecue. Funny how some folks finally catch on to what we've known here forever. It's hilarious what becomes popular among those who've never really had down-home cooking before.
The article describes the techniques and practices of a small, family-run bbq place in Hemingway, S.C. I'm not familiar with the town or the place, but the barbecue sounds familiar:
Cooking this way isn’t done much any more. This place, a couple of hours northwest of Charleston, as well as the Scott family approach to slow-smoking whole hogs over hardwood coals, appears to be vestigial.
For aficionados in search of ever-elusive authenticity, Scott’s offers all the rural tropes of a signal American barbecue joint. The main building is tin-roofed and time-worn. Dogs loll in the parking lot.
Around Greenville there are a few places where the pig is cooked the old-fashioned way as well. I've written of my love for Henry's. Out here in Greer Mutt's is pretty good. I'm not as much a fan of Bucky's as some friends (hello, Rob...). Dickey's is ok, but you have to question a Texas-based bbq place, not to mention no stacks of wood anywhere to be found.
Speaking of non-Southerners catching on to the way we do things down here, I find it quite interesting how revered Edna Lewis is through her wonderful cookbooks, even if you just read them and never even follow her directions for making fried chicken. Born in the small farming settlement of Freetown, Va., Lewis was the granddaughter of a freed slave who helped start the community. She epitomized what Southern cooking was and shared it with those who visited her restaurant in Manhattan. Here's how she described the kind of cooking she tried to share:
"The main thing about Southern cooking was that the food was homegrown, fresh and not hybridized," Lewis says. "You picked the food from the garden each day, and nothing was store-bought. You had your own meat or you bought it from a neighbor. We made our own butter and didn't give our cows pills to make them give more milk. The food had a better taste when it wasn't injected with something, like everything is today."
I love that! I'm about to get hungry! My favorite Southern meal? fried chicken, creamed potatoes, purple-hull peas, tomato biscuits.