Some words in the southern lexicon defy adequate linguistic description. To truly understand those words, you have to experience them, taste them as they drip off your tongue. ‘Cue—Barbecue—is one such word.
Throughout the month of February, those who would seek to understand ‘Cue have an opportunity to explore “The Story of BBQ in North Carolina,” a traveling exhibit that has made a pit stop in the McDowell Technical Community College Library, courtesy of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, with financial support from the N.C. Pork Council.
Those who really want to experience ‘Cue, however, will want to register for McDowell Tech’s FREE “Barbecue Basics and More” class that will be held on February 24th from 6-8 pm. The class will be taught by two real-life ‘Cue magicians, not academics: Creekside Smokers NC and Catering of Icard and Brother In Law BBQ Team of Asheville.
Texas, Kansas City, Memphis and the Low Country of South Carolina lay claim to their own iterations of what they misguidedly call barbecue, largely based on thick, sticky, syrupy additions of sauce and rubs to cooked meat, both pork and beef.
Those who want to experience real ‘Cue need travel no further than the two epicenters of pork barbecue in North Carolina, Lexington and Eastern North Carolina in general. Lexington’s tomato, vinegar and red pepper-based barbecue stands in stark contrast to the mopped on vinegar and pepper flavor of Eastern North Carolina barbecue, but both offer discerning palates a more realistic sense of what ‘Cue must taste like in heaven.
“While we don’t have samples of barbecue to give those visiting the exhibit,” said Ramona DeAngelus, MTCC’s Director of Library Services, “we do try to recreate the smell of authentic barbecue cooking over an open flame with an aromatherapy diffuser supplied by the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.”
Jars of bottled sauce, mock slabs of smoldering meat and t-shirts from some of the state’s most popular barbecue joints, including local and regional favorites, accompany the exhibit as it travels around the state. An interactive, touch-screen display tells the story of ‘Cue in North Carolina, along with stand-up banners and other educational materials. A board game and children’s play kitchen punch up the exhibits flavor.
“Learning takes place both inside and outside of the classroom! We appreciate the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources for offering our community a taste of North Carolina barbecue history with this traveling exhibit,” said Dr. Brian S. Merritt, MTCC President, “and we invite folks to visit our library any weekday to take in the exhibit until March 3. However, for those who want to better understand North Carolina ‘Cue, we suggest signing up for our FREE ‘Barbecue Basics and More’ class today. Why drive to Lexington or Eastern North Carolina when you can learn to make it in your own backyard with secrets from our barbecue masters?”
To register for “Barbecue Basics and More,” visit www.mcdowelltech.edu/conedclasses/ .