Barbecue snobbery is the only acceptable snobbery

Published 8:24 am Monday, June 24, 2019

Reynolds Wrap, the company which provides us with convenient rolls of tin foil to cover our food for later consumption, was accepting applications for a “Chief Grilling Officer” earlier this week. The lucky “CGO” would travel around the United States for two weeks during August in an attempt to find the best BBQ ribs in the country. That person would also get pre-paid travel and lodging along with a cushy $10,000 stipend.

A fun excuse to take a road-trip, right?

Sorry to disappoint anyone who may already be starting to pack their travel bags, but the deadline for Chief Grilling Officer applications has already passed. I definitely would have let you all know about it sooner had I heard about it earlier myself!

Personally, I like the idea of spending two weeks traveling around the country. America is big and I’ve only seen about 1/1000th of it (I’m just roughly estimating here). But as for the barbecue ribs part… well, I could definitely skip that altogether.

I’m unashamed to admit that I’m a barbecue snob. It’s eastern NC barbecue or no barbecue, in my 100-percent correct, absolutely-biased opinion. I will not accept any arguments to the contrary! (In fact, I don’t even consider barbecue ribs to be actual barbecue. Sorry not sorry, Reynolds Wrap.)

For anyone who wasn’t raised on eastern NC barbecue, the main thing to remember is that the sauce around here is vinegar based. Don’t confuse it with Lexington style which allegedly adds a bit of ketchup into the mix, giving it a redder color than people around here are used to. I say allegedly because I’ve never had Lexington style barbecue and I don’t intend on testing it out any time soon. Or ever, to be honest.

Anyway, forget about whether or not I’m accurately describing Lexington style barbecue. What we’re focusing on here is good old eastern NC barbecue. The kind you find around here at our many tasty barbecue restaurants in the Roanoke-Chowan area (and some outside of that too. I’ve had great barbecue that reminds me of home in Rocky Mount and Raleigh and Burlington.)

And just in case you were having any doubts about how great eastern NC barbecue is, I read a report from WRAL last year that our eastern style barbecue is actually a bit healthier than the other style our state is also known for. According to the study, our barbecue, which is made of both dark and white meat, has less fat and therefore less calories than the other style which is dark-only.

Great! That just means I can have second helping, right?

Of course, who has room for second helpings when there are so many good sides to go with the barbecue. Slaw, hushpuppies, French fries, Brunswick stew, and red potatoes just to name a few of my favorites. If you have a pig-pickin’ without any of these items, you’re definitely doing it wrong.

And don’t even get me started on sweet tea! I could write a whole separate column on how much I love sweet tea and how vital it is to completing an excellent meal.

But let’s get back to barbecue. “Barbecue” is a noun, by the way, referring to the food. If you’re gathering together to make said food, that’s called a “cookout” or a “pig-pickin.” If you use barbecue as a verb, I regret to inform you that you’ll be uninvited to the party.

Typically, I’m the kind of person against snobbery, but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being a barbecue snob. You can enjoy whatever barbecue you like, but I’ll be over here enjoying my eastern NC barbecue and maybe not sharing it with anyone else. No, I don’t want to try the other kinds. I’ll be less picky about other kinds of foods, thank you very much.

Don’t even talk to me about how some people down in South Carolina use mustard-based sauce. I can’t even describe here the disgusted face I made just thinking about that.

So what kind of barbecue do y’all like?

Holly Taylor is a Staff Writer for Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact her at or 252-332-7206.