Barbecue And The Best Food You've Never Had
February 12, 2003 2:40 PM   Subscribe

The Best Food You Never Had: Reading Jake Adam York's juicy essay on the art of the barbecue, I was once again sadly reminded I've never had the pleasure of tasting real, Southern U.S. open-pit barbecue. I have no idea whether it's better in Texas, Kansas, Louisiana, Alabama, Kentucky or Georgia; whether pork is better than beef; smoked is tastier than plain... Then I realized there are quite a number of other delicious foods (like fresh abalone sashimi; Alaskan king crab cooked live; a clam-bake on the beach; real wasabi; smoked sablefish; fresh unsalted caviar; an oyster Po'Boy...) I've never tried. It's an interesting gastronomic category: something you've read about and heard about and probably drooled over, that you just know you'd love if only you had a chance to try it! So forgive my curiosity: what's the best food you've never had? [Main link via Arts and Letters Daily]
posted by MiguelCardoso (95 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Smoked eel. Supposedly great with beer. One o' these days, I guess.
posted by alumshubby at 2:43 PM on February 12, 2003

Andy Nelson's, Baltimore, MD.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 2:44 PM on February 12, 2003

oh wait, that didn't answer your bizarre question, miguel. i just meant that's the best bbq i've ever had. details, details.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 2:45 PM on February 12, 2003

for barbecue... definitely pork over beef, lightly smoked perhaps. But don't let "plain" deter you. Served with a nice crunchy slaw and beans, ice cold cheap beer, Allman Brothers and/or Skynard (haha) and horse-shoes. A few bikinis runnin' around is key too. Pick-up trucks and a river would pretty much complete the package.
posted by Witty at 2:52 PM on February 12, 2003

I'll give you the best food you've probably never had. Great for bbq's. The ONLY thing for bbq's. Ladies and gentlemen, I give to you:

posted by WolfDaddy at 2:53 PM on February 12, 2003

At around $50 bucks a pop, it may be awhile before I get to try it.
posted by 2sheets at 2:53 PM on February 12, 2003

By "real wasabi" I assume you mean that of the non-hybrid plant which is much harder to produce, right? Does anyone have more info about that? I've heard from a decent source that all the wasabi we eat is inferior to the real deal, sacrificing potency for ease of production. I was told it's a "hybrid" strain, blending real wasabi with a heartier plant.
posted by zekinskia at 2:56 PM on February 12, 2003

truffles, freshly rooted up by un cochon du provence.
posted by krunk at 2:56 PM on February 12, 2003

East carolina barbecue, Miguel. But if you are an observant Jew you can't have it because it is ALWAYS pork.

Hickory smoked pulled pork in a vinegary sauce (you can't see the sauce. I had no idea it was vinegary till I was older-I just knew it tasted good.) A lot of the time it's served on a bun with cole slaw on top. Add hush puppies and a big glass of sweet ice tea.....ah, heaven.

It's actually one of the main reasons I moved back to North Carolina from Florida.
posted by konolia at 2:56 PM on February 12, 2003

Pit Bar-B-Q, rattlesnake, elk, venison, moose and bison. Its what's for dinner!
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:57 PM on February 12, 2003

best (pork) bbq in my area, off the top of my head:
porker's bbq in downtown chattanooga, tennessee, across from the choo-choo.
waycrazy's bbq on signal mtn, tennessee.
southern pit bbq in morrow, georgia, south of hartsfield airport.
fatt matt's on piedmont in atlanta, georgia.

(best test: order the pork plate, with brunswick stew and potato salad, with a tall glass of sweet iced tea.)

food i've imagined, but never had? turkish delight, like in the pages of a c.s.lewis novel. or madelaines (sp?), like proust.
posted by grabbingsand at 2:58 PM on February 12, 2003

konolia: The other being... gettin' the F out of Florida?
posted by Witty at 3:01 PM on February 12, 2003

Zekinskia: yup! The wily Canadians are quietly cultivating it in British Columbia. It's supposed to be very different from the horseradishy stuff you get in (even the best) sushi houses.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 3:02 PM on February 12, 2003

Here's another good wasabi link, Zekinskia.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 3:06 PM on February 12, 2003

what's the best food you've never had?

The first two I can think of: a Philly cheesesteak sandwich (that is actually from Philadelphia) and a fresh, as in caught this morning, Maine lobster. I know quite a few people from maine and philly, so I hear about how everyone else messes these two things up outside these areas.

Witty knows his bbq
posted by dogwalker at 3:06 PM on February 12, 2003

Yes, WolfDaddy, yes. Tri-tip is the cut. And not just for BBQ. The tri-tip culotte (strip), marinated in olive oil and garlic and grilled is truly fine. For a long time, though, it was hard to find a butcher who carried the cut. Now, its available at um, Costco (at least in Chicago). Which is nothing to scoff at.

The best food I've never had: Kobe beef. Still too expensive for me to risk screwing it up. Some local restaurants are serving lower grades ground for hamburgers. That might be worth checking out.
posted by footballrabi at 3:09 PM on February 12, 2003

Unless you've been to Southern Louisiana(this includes New Orleans and Cajun Country), you have not really been eating...this is not a joke.
posted by Pacheco at 3:14 PM on February 12, 2003

Memphis BBQ is of course the king of it all. One of the largest BBQ chains is Red, Hot and Blue a Memphis BBQ. My relatives in Memphis have their own spice. The "Supwerbowl of Swine" is held every year in May in the Memphis In May World Championship BBQ Contest.
posted by stbalbach at 3:17 PM on February 12, 2003

Well I guess I'd opt for trying the durian, a fruit that is either hailed as ambrosia or reviled and loathed. You apparently have to get by the stink before you get to the heavenly part.

There are lots of fairly rare, short-shelf life tropical fruitsthat sound yummy actually.

In the tried-but-almost-never-get category, soft shelled crab and crawfish etouffe. Yum.
posted by madamjujujive at 3:21 PM on February 12, 2003

ya'll need to put some south in your mouth
posted by yeahyeahyeahwhoo at 3:24 PM on February 12, 2003

ah, a real philly cheesesteak. In the south I get all of the delicious bbq but not the rumored excellent cheesesteaks from PA (oh, and sandwiches from a real ny jewish delicatessen).

The south and north have alot of these never-had-must-haves, but what does the west and midwest have to offer?

... runs and hides
posted by dig_duggler at 3:24 PM on February 12, 2003

footballrabi, doesn't sound like you have a problem finding the cut anymore, but just in case you do in future (or get tired of Costco's merely okay and too-fatty cuts) and your butcher looks at you blankly when you say "tri-tip", try asking for sirloin tips. That may get you the stuff you love. :-)
posted by WolfDaddy at 3:27 PM on February 12, 2003

dig_duggler ... have you not been listening? The West has tri-tip! I was born and raised in Texas, and thought the South was the absolute authority on what and how to barbeque.

Then I moved to California, and discovered I was wrong. So very, very, wrong.
posted by WolfDaddy at 3:30 PM on February 12, 2003

I'm originally from St. Louis, but long gone. After I left, whenever I ran into someone who'd lived in or visited the area, we'd compare notes and they would inevitably rave about any of three awesome foods peculiar to the area. I've had two: toasted ravioli (which you can now find everywhere) and Ted Drewe's frozen custard (mmmmmmm). But I've never had the third, and it sounds really good: gooey butter cake. Anybody had it? Is it worth a trip back to the old neighborhood?
posted by clever sheep at 3:39 PM on February 12, 2003

Just reading all you fine people writing so lovingly about barbecue...a single tear runs down my cheek.
posted by Ty Webb at 3:41 PM on February 12, 2003

You guys have hit on something close to my heart. As a native Memphian, I take my BBQ more seriously than God, Mom and Apple Pie all put together. We live and die for the good stuff, and for a pulled pork sandwich, Payne's is as good as it gets. My family has been going there for years. I simply cannot lavish enough praise on this place. I live and work in Italy, where there is certainly no shortage of good food, but when I step off that plane in Memphis, the first thing I do is head for Payne's. Do not stop, do not pass go, head straight for the barbecue. Payne's crops up on message boards across the country and is well-known to most in-the-know Memphians.

If I feel like a drive, then I'm in my car and off to Bozo's, about an hour away. In my book, this is the number two sandwich in Memphis.

For ribs, we hit the Rendezvous (dry, not wet). Both my favorites are mentioned in this article.

By the way, there is no such thing as "beef barbecue." This is nothing but a bastardized brisket and does not deserve the name "barbecue." Don't trust any Texan half-wit who tries to convince you of such a thing.
posted by charlesv at 3:43 PM on February 12, 2003

clever sheep, why not try Emeril's own recipe and see for yourself?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:43 PM on February 12, 2003

Matsuzaka beef and Mishima beef are supposed to be even better (and more expensive and difficult to find) than Kobe beef, of which there are two types (can't remember their names) which are even more expensive and rarer...

Add matsutake mushrooms (which I remember recently reading in The New Yorker has made a few millionaires and provoked some near-murders in Oregon); real wasabi; near-extinct crustaceans and fugu and I find a suspiciously surprising number of foods I'd love if I could get my hands on them, come from Japan.

It's probably a great marketing ploy - make everything very scarse, obscure and inaccessible; demand it's freshly plucked in some very distant neck of the woods or sea and charge a fortune for it - but it certainly works for me.

Not being able to have something, as Lacan was fond of saying, is a pre-condition of desire - right? ;)

[written with knocking knees, lest planetkyoto or a Japanese Mefi detect any obvious clunkers, born of a furriner's ignorance.]
posted by MiguelCardoso at 3:44 PM on February 12, 2003

The south and north have alot of these never-had-must-haves, but what does the west and midwest have to offer?

From my own state, there's nothing that beats authentic chile relleno, with the crunchy-fried outside and cheesy innards... unless it's a plate of carne adovada with a side of posole and a pile of fresh tortillas.
posted by vorfeed at 3:44 PM on February 12, 2003

Oh, and we have some pretty good barbecue in Utah, too.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:45 PM on February 12, 2003

er, my state being New Mexico.

...I forgot my own state... -_-;;
posted by vorfeed at 3:47 PM on February 12, 2003

> Pit Bar-B-Q, rattlesnake, elk, venison, moose and bison. Its
> what's for dinner!

Lots of roadhouse bbq joints around here will also do custom barbecueing. Best sign: "If it will fit on our pit, we will cook it."

> But if you are an observant Jew you can't have it because it
> is ALWAYS pork.

I dunno. I had a high-school friend who was an observant Jew (and in fact later became a rabbi) who claimed to be the only guy on earth who knew how to make a kosher ham sandwich.

Question for the (possibly near) future: if they genetically engineer a pig without cloven hooves, would it be kosher?
posted by jfuller at 3:48 PM on February 12, 2003

Iberico de Bellota Spanish hams from black footed pigs that dine exclusively on wild acorns in the forest. The cost for a a ham leg of this type is US$800 and has a two year waiting list.
posted by Argyle at 3:52 PM on February 12, 2003

Thanks, crash! I started googling for gooey butter cake recipes as soon as I hit "post," and was seriously pondering the possible confounding factor of the authors not being from Missouri. I wonder how the "St. Louis" version is special? Calls for exploration, I say....

(gets out the baker's sugar)
posted by clever sheep at 3:53 PM on February 12, 2003

Reading the barbecue tips in this thread I'm even more confused than when I started out - chronically hungrier too. I suppose, for vicarious purposes, I could always make a mug of Bovril and put on some Beaver Nelson and the lousy Salt Lick T-shirt ColdChef once sent me. And read that menu again...
posted by MiguelCardoso at 4:10 PM on February 12, 2003


Banana Tree!
posted by ubi at 4:20 PM on February 12, 2003

At the end of the movie Tampopo, A yakuza gang member is shot to death in a small playground. As he lies dying next to a small statue of a wild boar, he uses his last breaths to tell his lover about his favorite meal. On an island in the South Pacific, he whispers, they hunt wild boar in the winter, when the only thing boars can find to eat are yams. The tribesmen disembowel the boars, saving the intestine. They roast intestine over the fire, full of yam, and devour it. His lover whispers that it would be good with soy sauce.

I've never had that.
posted by daver at 4:23 PM on February 12, 2003

Come on. Where is the love for Kansas City? Bryant's is a classic. Gates is right up there with them. Then there are all of the rest of the great joints around town: Lil' Jake's Eat it and Beat it (One of my favorites. Great burt ends. Only open for lunch.), Hayward's, Zarda, Smokestack and Rosedale. The list goes on and on.
posted by sp dinsmoor at 4:23 PM on February 12, 2003

Sp dinsmoor: Thanks. The Kansas link in my post is to a Saveur article which mentions Bryant's, the Charcoal Grill and other KC restaurants.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 4:29 PM on February 12, 2003

The south and north have alot of these never-had-must-haves, but what does the west and midwest have to offer?

Wisconsin Bratwurst can be disturbingly difficult to find outside of the midwest. Of course, for proper effect, I have to recommend boiling them in one of the stronger-flavored Wisconsin beers (along with some course ground pepper) before grilling. Oh yes, and there must be sauerkraut.

But I digress. The best food I've never had is probably bison steak.
posted by Galvatron at 4:32 PM on February 12, 2003

It's true - Carolina BBQ is inimitable - but not just North Carolina. The best I've ever had is a place called Sweatman's, just off I-26 on Highway 453 outside of Holly Hill, SC. It's actually not far off the highway, but you should make sure it's Friday or Saturday when you go - they're closed every other day of the week. And they have no phone. But they have both vinegar and mustard pork and a "hash" for your rice that's so good you know better than to ask what it's made of or why it's pea-green.
posted by subpixel at 4:32 PM on February 12, 2003

My dad grew up in Baltimore, and he'd talk about this place he and my grandparents would go every couple of months. He couldn't remember the name, just that it was outside and there were picnic tables everywhere, each table covered in layers of newsprint. You'd order up a couple dozen crabs, and they'd be brought to your table, and you'd smash 'em to pieces and eat the crab meat while drinking beer.

That's the best meal I've never had. That, and the one from the end of Tampopo that daver wrote about.

I have had cheesesteaks in Philly, and they were just as good as I'd hoped. Also fish tacos in Baja, ribs in St. Louis, and venison and tsepilinu in Lithuania.

posted by RakDaddy at 5:20 PM on February 12, 2003

I read the article this morning and went straight out to the Denver "Brothers BBQ" mentioned at the end of the article. Good Q.

One of the two Brit "Brothers" moved in directly across the street from us a couple of years ago. I haven't met him yet. He does have some cool late-night parties, though, I guess. I wouldn't know. All off the sudden I've turned into an old fart who gets up at the crack of dawn to retrieve the morning paper in his bathrobe.

Oh, we were talking about food? Sorry.
posted by kozad at 5:39 PM on February 12, 2003

Um Daver and and RakDaddy that would be known as "chitlins" here. Do you have the guts to attend the Chitlin Strut? Its held every year in Salley South Carolina.
posted by SweetIceT at 5:41 PM on February 12, 2003

Do you have the guts to attend the Chitlin Strut?

Do you have the guts to attend the Testical festival? BBQed, fried, baked or boiled. Your choice.

(Never been, never will.)
posted by Wulfgar! at 5:50 PM on February 12, 2003

well, madamjujujive, I would highly discourage you from trying durian....its nasty, to say the least. Basically, the smell is best described by my former tropical ecology prof "it smells like a custard that's been stuck in a locker full of sweaty gymsocks for a week". Its actually not too repulsive on the taste buds, almost like a very distant relation to the banana.

On a related note, if you actually did want to try durian or any other thousands of exotic foods, I would highly suggest a pilgrimage to Jungle Jim's in Cincinnati, has, by far, the largest selection of exotic foods I've ever seen.
posted by dicaxpuella at 6:06 PM on February 12, 2003

They are available in every BBQ and steak restaurant I ever went to in my youth. Many people say they are delicious. My own mother eats them a lot; usually when I go back to visit and go out to dinner with her.

I have never eaten them, and never will.

They are Rocky Mountain Oysters.
posted by yhbc at 6:14 PM on February 12, 2003

My "maybe I should try that" food is lychee. It looks like it would taste good, but I've heard reports that it tastes like a water chestnut that's been marinated for a couple of weeks in a cheap drugstore perfume, maybe Charlie. One day I'll work up the nerve to try it myself. If I can survive umeboshi plum, I can survive lychee, I guess.

Of course, the first thing I thought of reading this thread isn't something that I've never had, but something I loved and can never have again -- a sandwich made by my grandfather. The man was a master of spreads and layering, of odd ingredients that delight the senses while boggling the mind. He once made me a sandwich of avocado, gruyere cheese and coleslaw with dark deli mustard and horseradish on pumpernickel bread. It was the most amazing thing I ever had, and try as I might, I cannot replicate it. Good, good stuff.

Question for the (possibly near) future: if they genetically engineer a pig without cloven hooves, would it be kosher?

Technically, yes. But rabbinical authorities would probably counsel against eating it due to the appearance that it was something inappropriate. There are many such rabbinical prohibitions -- like eating soy cheese on a beef hamburger, for instance.
posted by Dreama at 6:26 PM on February 12, 2003

It's not good barbeque unless you're in danger of getting shot.

You know I'm right.

And having said that, the best barbeque I've ever had is in the armpit of America: Prichard, Alabama.

If you can't brave the locale or you don't want your car jacked, go to the legendary Dreamland BBQ in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. ONLY the one in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. The other ones don't cut it.

Also, let's add that to the golden rules of BBQ joints:

1) Must be in Danger of Getting Shot
2) The menu consists of two things: Ribs and White Bread, and Sweet Tea. If there's anything else you are eating at an inferior establishment. Yes, even if they serve water.
posted by Stan Chin at 6:32 PM on February 12, 2003

charlesv: I second the nomination of Payne's as Best Barbeque Ever. The rib sandwich is to die for. Anyone who would choose to eat the mediocre shite that Corky's calls BBQ rather than brave the scary ghetto for Payne's should be curbstomped. Or at the very least banned from Memphis.

For those who keep kosher, just remember that it's not pork. It's porkfish.
posted by bunnytricks at 6:39 PM on February 12, 2003

So, yhbc, what you're saying is: your mom likes sucking nuts. You have my sympathy, really. No child should know so much ...
posted by Wulfgar! at 7:05 PM on February 12, 2003

Yes Wulfgar!, I have issues. Maybe I should open Oedipus Ribs.
posted by yhbc at 7:12 PM on February 12, 2003

No Wulf but I have been to the the town that hosts the:

Turkey Testicle Festival
posted by SweetIceT at 7:21 PM on February 12, 2003

Hey, there's nothing better than goin' to a cattle round up. You brand them yourself, fix them (the cattle) yourself and then throw the results onto a griddle over the campfire and cook 'em yourself.

Seen it happen. Didn't choose to participate. I was still a little queasy from the branding. And then the fixing.
posted by WolfDaddy at 7:59 PM on February 12, 2003

Aged Balsamic Vinegar over fresh strawberries. Something I've wanted to try, but never had the chance.

And I'm not talking about the cheap stuff from your average supermarket. I mean the kind that's been aged for like 25-50 years and goes for $100+ bucks a bottle.
posted by ssmith at 8:13 PM on February 12, 2003

Thanks for the advice dicaxpuella. And I suppose Ohio is a lot closer to me than the South Seas, but somehow that takes a bit of the allure away. Well if I get the yen to drive on out to try a durian, I'll give you a shout for lunch!
posted by madamjujujive at 8:14 PM on February 12, 2003

Miguel: I'm so pleased that you linked the Salt Lick! They're a short drive outside of town (Austin), and worth the trip. The family style (ie all you can eat) is one of the best meals you'll find in this part of the state, and you can bring your own cooler of beer to boot.
To answer the question, I've never had foie gras, which I hear is heavenly.
posted by Gilbert at 8:23 PM on February 12, 2003

Hey, there's nothing better than goin' to a cattle round up. You brand them yourself, fix them (the cattle) yourself and then throw the results onto a griddle over the campfire and cook 'em yourself.

Been there, done that, yeah there's a lotta things better. I've never tried the "oysters", The thought of it makes me ill. It might just be that I can never forget the smell of branding ...

At the same time, I do like the end result: filet mignon over a light cedar smoke, extra rare.
posted by Wulfgar! at 8:24 PM on February 12, 2003

My mouth is watering reading this thread. As a former Memphian, I appreciate charlesv's comments. Rendezvous has the best ribs. I haven't tried Payne's, but Willingham's has a great pork sandwich. Corky's might as well serve ketchup sandwiches. Bunnytricks, you get an extra sandwich for using "curbstomped." I may have to do a front page post on "curbing."

grabbingsand, the best barbecue in Atlanta is Lowcountry Barbecue. They don't have a restaurant. Only catering and delivery.

Argyle, now I really want to try Iberico de Bellota. Who's buying? I wonder how this puerco would taste barbecued.

Kansas City and Texas can stick it. Beef barbecue is an aberration and brisket is entirely different from pulled pork.
posted by Frank Grimes at 8:24 PM on February 12, 2003

Uh... Soylent Green?
posted by shinybeast at 8:26 PM on February 12, 2003

40 odd miles outside of Waco, TX on Hwy 6 (or 8 miles N of Calvert, or in other words the midlle of frickn' nowhere) there is a shack on the side of the road called Ranchlanders. Best smoked brisket I ever ate, and the chopped brisket sandwich could make you weep in the knowledge that you have just eaten true art.

Pickles and tea mandatory, and remember, drive friendly!
posted by tcskeptic at 8:40 PM on February 12, 2003

It all sounds delicious...except for the tea. Surely, barbecue cries out for a full-bodied red wine? And if the tea is sweet, then...
posted by MiguelCardoso at 9:01 PM on February 12, 2003

Surely, barbecue cries out for a full-bodied red wine?

I'm sorry Miguel, you will never.... ever... understand barbeque.
posted by Stan Chin at 9:03 PM on February 12, 2003

So forgive my curiosity: what's the best food you've never had?

I don't know but I always look for it to be part of my next meal.

Mig, I'm curious about your use of the phrase "fresh, unsalted caviar". I've done some reading about caviar lately (in a book about salt of all things) and just this morning in the Oxford Companion to Food. From what I have understood, all caviar is salted, although a particularly excellent caviar will, or may depending on your point of view, be lightly salted. Having unsalted, fresh caviar would require the sturgeon itself to be fresh (a formidable requirement) and even then I have understood it should still be salted.

Catching a sturgeon was actually possible (and common) throughout medieval Europe. Any sizable river had sturgeon and as late as the 1st century they plucked one or two from the Seine; the last rumored sighting of a sturgeon near Paris was in the 19th century. North America's great sturgeon river was the Hudson.

posted by Dick Paris at 9:04 PM on February 12, 2003

ssmith -- I bought a $100 bottle of Balsamic and it's pretty good lots of flavour but not worth it IMO the cheaper stuff isn't too bad unless you really know the diffrence. It's like highend wine for a non-wine drinker is a waste nothing to compare it with.
posted by stbalbach at 9:07 PM on February 12, 2003

St. Louis also has a tradition for our barbeque - the use of a cut called a "pork steak". When I went to college, everyone thought I was nuts for even uttering the phrase. Done right - marinated overnight, lightly grilled, then stewed in 1/3 home-made BBQ, 1/3 vinegar, and 1/3 Budweiser - there's really nothing I've found that compares.

Regarding Ted Drewes' custard and gooey butter cake, yeah, they're great. I worked at Drewes' as a teenager, and we often had to make up a couple hundred cups of frozen custard, to be packed in dry ice and shipped to conferences around the country.

On preview, "Budweiser" is corrected to "undeserved".
posted by notsnot at 9:08 PM on February 12, 2003

...bows to the wisdom of Stan Chin, Frank Grimes and bunnytricks...

And since Dick here brought up the Kurlansky book, I should take this moment to refer you to another book of his: Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World. It's about cod, the Basques, Gloucester, MA and the discovery of America.
posted by charlesv at 9:11 PM on February 12, 2003

No, a pig without cloven hooves would not be kosher. Clean animals must have cloven hooves and chew the cud - ie only ruminants are acceptable.

You would have to engineer a pig with multiple stomachs to make it eligible.

Now that I think about it, the rabbinical tradition enumerates the acceptable animals, so pigs that chew the cud might not be acceptable anyway.

Still, I encourage you to find a rabbi and ask. The expression on his face would be worth seeing, no matter what the answer.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:50 PM on February 12, 2003

konolia is right. The gods eat Carolina barbecue. With hush puppies and cole slaw. It's not enough to make me move back to Carolina, but it brings a tear to my eye, and makes me salivate like a Pavlovian dog when I think about it.

In Philly, the closest I've found is the pulled pork sandwich at Jack's Firehouse. Jack McDavid is a star of the Philly restaurant scene now, but began life as a good ol' boy from very, very rural Virginia, and knows Southern food.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 11:54 PM on February 12, 2003

Throw another bug on the barby
posted by islander at 12:28 AM on February 13, 2003

I've tasted abalone as my cousin used to fish the stuff, well dive for it anyway. Chewy and meaty - like scallops. One treat I remember from a BBQ in the US was corn on the cob, still in its leaves chucked straight on the fire - it was over 20 years ago but I can still taste it...

I've never had real proper Caviar, or as someone else mentioned Truffles.
posted by jontyjago at 1:30 AM on February 13, 2003

Along with the Cheesesteaks in Philly....its also the place where I have tasted the very best Italian Sub sandwiches. Havent had one in years but I still salivate thinking about them. You absolutely cannot get a good sub in the south, period. They simply do not understand the concept of the requred roll. I think all the hushpuppies and cornbread has caused some sort of disconnect there.
posted by SweetIceT at 1:30 AM on February 13, 2003

Barbeque Raccoon, and Tiger meat, maybe some 'Gator steaks, and finally the famous 1000-year old egg.
posted by hama7 at 2:06 AM on February 13, 2003

Fie, fie, o botched link: the famous 1000-year-old egg.
posted by hama7 at 2:09 AM on February 13, 2003

i_am_joe's_spleen is right. I forgot about the ruminant half of of the kosher animal equation. Vegetarian has spared me from the tedium of remembering all of the details of the kashruth of flesh.

And if hushpuppies and cornbread have caused a disconnect between the South and the leathery, overleavened chewy white crap bread that I regularly experience wrapped around a salad (aka "veggie subs") then good on the South. I'll take a sweet old hunk of cornbread over that crap any old day.
posted by Dreama at 2:17 AM on February 13, 2003

One treat I remember from a BBQ in the US was corn on the cob, still in its leaves chucked straight on the fire

The only way to cook it - for an even better experience, soak the ears in milk for a few hours before grilling. If you can get it, try Jersey Sweet corn. Along with Sinatra, the Garden State's finest export.
posted by jalexei at 5:11 AM on February 13, 2003

best subs: Dibella's in rochester, ny

there's just something about the bread and the oil dressing.
posted by goddam at 6:16 AM on February 13, 2003

It all sounds delicious...except for the tea

Miguel, you need to come visit the American South just to taste the nectar that is sweet ice tea...the barbecue places make it the best. There's an art to it.

The idea of wine with barbecue makes me convulse. And not just with laughter.
posted by konolia at 6:18 AM on February 13, 2003

Miguel, as far as your idea about red wine, you'd think that, but it doesn't work. The saltiness and tang of the smoked meat make wine inappropriate. Beer is in fact the best accompaniment to Memphis barbecue, preferably from the Rendezvous.

My girl has actually surprised me for my birthday by ordering the ribs by phone (1-800-PIGS-FLY, I think) and having them sent here (NYC) by FedEx. It was delicious, almost but not quite like being there.

Strangely, the Rendezvous is disliked by some, as it is not in fact slowly smoked, but (relatively) quickly grilled.

I would also recommend Interstate as a decent Memphis runner-up, mentioned along with the Rendezvous in this article.
posted by lackutrol at 6:30 AM on February 13, 2003

Please replace "it is" in the above third paragraph with "their ribs are." Thank you.
posted by lackutrol at 6:35 AM on February 13, 2003

I had the same reaction as others to Miguel's suggestion of wine with BBQ. I would always expect a cold long neck nearby (as I would with the aforementioned Maryland blue crabs) but the range of wines available in the world made me hesitate. Just as one could choose to have an Alsatian beer or an Alsatian white wine with choucroute garnie (which should be on everyone's list if they have not had it -- ask me where if you'll be in Paris) I would be willing to bet there is a wine that works with BBQ (certainly as well as tea).
posted by Dick Paris at 6:56 AM on February 13, 2003

Along with the Cheesesteaks in Philly....its also the place where I have tasted the very best Italian Sub sandwiches. Havent had one in years but I still salivate thinking about them. You absolutely cannot get a good sub in the south, period. They simply do not understand the concept of the requred roll. I think all the hushpuppies and cornbread has caused some sort of disconnect there

This is so true except for one case. There was a guy in Huntsville, AL who was a laid off rocket scientist from NY who started up a sandwich shop. He flew everything down from NY (including the water for some dough) and it was by far the best sandwiches I have ever had. Egg creams, knish. mmmmmm...
Then he died, and his secrets went with him. That is why I long for some real northern subs....
posted by dig_duggler at 7:08 AM on February 13, 2003

Dreama, don't get me wrong. I love good cornbread and hushpuppies. Half of my family is from the south and half from the north (mother and father). I love southern food period. I even have a reputation among my friends for my southern potato salad. I grew up a military brat and for a period of time was married to a man who built powerlines for a living. This gave me the good fortune of knowing (and tasting) the best of both worlds.

Might I suggest with your hushpuppies or cornbread, a batch of fried okra and some Catfish Stew over rice. Or if a fish stew is not your bag how bout a big ol bowl of spicy Carolina Chicken Bog. Both are fairly easy to prepare and are often used when you want to feed a crowd. I suggest Y'all give these a try.
posted by SweetIceT at 8:13 AM on February 13, 2003

goddam: Somehow I just learned of Dibella's last night, but next time in Rochester I will be getting a Garbage Plate. I was under the impression that only Nick Tahou's served these monuments to gluttony, but apparently there's a whole spectrum of greasy goodness out there.
posted by bunnytricks at 8:15 AM on February 13, 2003

i've never tried a garbage plate from anywhere other than Tahou's, mainly because i've been told not to bother. the original is the best.

if you go there, get your order to go, even if you dine in. they put it in a styrofoam container and you usually end up getting more greasy goodness then they would normally put on a paper plate.

what i wouldn't give for a garbage plate right now.
posted by goddam at 8:35 AM on February 13, 2003

Wow, great thread. I grew up in NC, still go there a couple of times a year, and I always go for barbecue, be it the eastern (Lexington) vinegar style, or the western tomato-sauce style. Had abalone at a Chinese wedding last year, had carne adovada in New Mexico, a Reuben at Carnegie Deli in NY, cheesesteaks in Philly. Tried but failed to get baked beans in Boston. Good stuff, all.

ssmith--For Christmas this year, my girlfriend gave me a bottle of 100-year old balsamic vinegar, which I just last weekend tried on fresh strawberries. Heavenly.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:07 AM on February 13, 2003

For the best food I've ever had, it'd be a tie between some fine TexMex and Mudbugs.

For the best BBQ, I must admit that the finest I've tasted in Texas was better than the finest I've tasted anywhere else, the Carolinas included. The best of the best was in a little mom-n-pop restaurant (can't remember the name) in Ropesville, TX, which is just outside of Lubbock. I had two platefuls for $5. It was beautiful.
posted by Lafe at 10:19 AM on February 13, 2003

Mig, I'm curious about your use of the phrase "fresh, unsalted caviar".

Dick: it all started back in the late seventies when I walked into Petrossian in Manhattan for the first time, specifically to eat caviar and the uppity head waiter told me "But sir, it's not in season and we don't serve the tinned stuff.." (Now that fresh caviar is almost unobtainable, they do).

This "fresh" caviar is just very, very lightly salted and served a few weeks at the most after capture. But best of all, according to those lucky enough to try it, is freshly captured Iranian caviar, straight from the boat. Imagine the contacts you'd have to have.

*gulp* I see what you all mean about the red wine and barbecue! As I've never tried it, I keep thinking "grilled" and "rare" and "unsmoked" steak (and bearnaise sauce). Not barbecue at all, idioy. So I'll definitely sign up for the complete experience as soon as I can - iced tea or beer it will be! ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 11:12 AM on February 13, 2003

in defense of wine: barbecues are popular here in s america. we were down in patagonia last week, in punta arenas - the world's southernmost city. it's not that warm there, even in summer, so it's quite normal to have a barbecue range inside the house. my partner has family down there and we ended up at a barbecue cooked inside her uncle's house. with wine. it was pretty good.

in the restaurants in santiago you can get "parillada" (grill) which is a pile of various cuts of meat and sausages on a hot metal tray - that's a kind of barbecue (the word "parillada" can mean barbecue") and again it's normal to eat that with wine (red cabernet sauvignon is the standard here).

the only thing i can think of that i'd like to try but haven't is those american marshmallow bird sweets (the ones that you see on websites being burnt etc). i noticed them at the local supermarket, but they seemed expensive (being imported). but that's hardly gourmet! also, i've always thought fresh pea yoghurt ought to be refreshing, but never bothered to make it.
posted by andrew cooke at 11:23 AM on February 13, 2003

Marshmallow peeps.

Could someone kindly tell me what caviar actually tastes like?
posted by konolia at 11:36 AM on February 13, 2003

When a southerner says barbecue he means specifically "slow-cooked pork served with a spicy red sauce."

Cooking meat on a grill is called a cookout, not a barbecue.

I lived in Brooklyn for a few years, and in NY and the northern US, anything thrown on a grill is called barbecue. I consider the northerners barbarians.
posted by charlesv at 12:04 PM on February 13, 2003

Uh, get your red sauce off my barbecue. Unless you count the two or three drops of Texas Pete I adorn it with.
posted by konolia at 12:07 PM on February 13, 2003

slow-cooked pork served with a spicy red sauce.
ah! sorry! i guess we had a cookin.
caviar tastes fishy. never understood what all the fuss was about.
posted by andrew cooke at 1:04 PM on February 13, 2003

In Illinois I was astonished when told I would be dining on "barbeque" and discovered I was actually being served what I could only call sloppy joes with out the buns. Seems they think that hamburger meat served with barbeque sauce fits the bill. Amazed I was ....(well that and disappointed).
posted by SweetIceT at 5:54 PM on February 13, 2003

Miguel: Heavier salting will lengthen the shelf life of any food (and make whatever has been salted saltier). Lighter salting (e.g. "fresh" caviar) is preserved, it just has a shorter shelf life.

Andrew's fishy tasting caviar may have gone past its shelf life -- anything from a fish should never taste fishy as far as I know.


From what I understand, the fuss around caviar is a result of a fashion for things Russian sometime around the turn of the 19th century and the fact that now the product is extremely rare. (Rarity is usually the top reason for the high cost of food; it is that cost that gives the product elite status. It does not necessarily mean it may be the best food you've never had.)

Caviar, when it was abundant, was served as a free bar snack (as a salted product it encouraged more drinking) and a provision for soldiers in WW I. It was usually traded for a good can of sardines.

The world is chock full of great things to eat. They might taste of their place of origin -- oysters are the sea and truffles are the earth -- or they might carry the taste of wonderfully complex processing -- the ham mentioned by Argyle or any cheese (I suppose even factory processing counts, although one may not care for the taste of a factory, unless it's a Twinkie) -- or our food carries the intense layering of flavors imparted during the preparation for the table -- barbecue and a curry being among many fine examples.

What a dazzling array of choice and cleverness to make the inedible edible!

All I ask it that when something hits my tongue, it says something good and I have some sense of what it means. That, like any language, is learned. I sometimes say, if you hate Brussels sprouts, you've never had a good one. On the other hand, something may just be lost in the translation.

This thread's a keeper.
posted by Dick Paris at 11:11 PM on February 13, 2003

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