East Carolina Cuisine

21 08 2007

I’m spending the week on the beach at Emerald Isle, NC and rediscovering just how much I enjoy doing nothing. By nothing, I mean NOTHING. It’s really very nice and it means that preparing meals is far more work than I’m prepared to take on.

I realize that writing for any sort of public format after a couple of cocktails is risky, at best, but since WordPress allows me to edit after the fact, I’ll take my chances. And I really do want to talk about East Carolina BBQ. We just had a fabulous (in the context of plenty of alcohol) takeout BBQ experience from Bogue’s, in…well, I couldn’t tell you the location of the place. It’s over the bridge in a run down looking wood frame building. Anyways (!) the thing about Carolina BBQ is that you don’t get to choose the meat. You just order BBQ and they give you a styrofoam container of gray stuff, along with a container of slaw, a container of collards and a greasy bag (Homer Simpson’s “window of opportunity”) full of hush puppies, described as simply “hp” on the menu.

Anyways (!) the culinary lesson is that each item on the Carolina BBQ dinner table is interdependent. The vinegar BBQ meat is meant to be eaten with a bit of the slaw or a bit of the collards. The side dishes don’t really stand on their own, but require the vinegar and toothsome texture (I’m making that up…) of the mystery meat for full enjoyment. All participants agreed that the collards simply do not stand on their own; we didn’t care one way or the other about them and they could have been shoveled from the table without a bit of protest. I don’t recall any comments about the slaw, as it seemed to be simply a condiment for the meat.

Now, the hushpuppies. Well, they seem to be deepfried onion rings without the onion. Their role is pleasant though unclear. This may be a cultural thing that is simply unfathomable to those haling from other geographic areas. Again, I’m making this up, which reminds me that my drink needs refreshing, so I’d better get right on that. I’ll get a beach report out tomorrow.




One response

21 08 2007

This kind of eating sounds like a cardiologist’s dream – an annuity, a new wing on the house, a Ferrari or prepaid college tuition – one wonders whether the good doctor drives by the BBQ joint and smiles and says “Keep up the good work” .

Collards can (and at such places as Ruby’s Soul Food, on KC’s Brooklyn Avenue, do) stand on their own, a peppery, vinegary, slightly sinewy mash of strong and memorable flavor. But don’t ask what is the basis for that savoryness – it might be lard or some other gelatinous goo that, with a few years, might cause one to keel over and not get up.

Writing after drinking is, by the way, not only a time-honored tradition but one that deserves recognition for the fun that it is . . . .

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