NC BBQ Tour (East)
There is a war in North Carolina over something that my brother and I take very seriously: BBQ. According to history:
The South began to see a partitioning of barbecue styles following the commercial introduction of ketchup. Heinz unveiled the condiment at Centennial International Exhibition of 1876.
Eastern North Carolina kept to tradition [Vinegar-based] while North Carolinians west of Raleigh and others throughout the South began experimenting with different types of sauce and meat.
Eastern NC is known for their Whole Hog BBQ and while my brother was visiting, we hit up some of the best. I do have to say, there is something whimsical about whole hog. You get every cut of meat in each bite: Ham, Shoulder, Bacon, Skin, Lion, the sauce has a little kick, and there is a "chopper" who is responsible for making the perfect Barbecue bite. The hog is smoked over oak for 18-24 hours, with someone tending the pit every minute of the day. Each pit makes its own "char coals" by first burning the wood and then transferring the coals into the pit, giving it an amazingly woody flavor. Going into the pit is a mouth watering experience. You smell the hog cooking, mixed with the dense oak smoke. It actually made me hungry!
We hit up four of East's best whole hog joints. Each had it's pros and cons.
For my top, I'd have to go with Skyline Inn - they had a cool pit tour, they pork was amazing, and there is a lot of history. Our first stop, at a place called Bum's (next to a gun store in a little town), was a close second, with a delightful sauce and a smokey, juicy BBQ. The other ones were okay, but hard to compare.
Next time, we will be heading west to find out the secrets of Lexington (NC) style BBQ.