The Great Divide: Eastern Vs. Western NC Barbecue
Lifestyle

The Great Divide: Eastern Vs. Western NC Barbecue

Vinegar-based or tomato-based?

7680
Epicurious

Across America, especially in the South, barbecue is a dietary staple of game day, family reunions and Sunday dinner. Small town barbecue joints, annual church "Pig Pickin's" and washing down your barbecue sandwich with an ice cold sweet tea while tailgating are all integral to life in the American South. Barbecue is familiar and classic, a comfort food, but despite this it's not as simple as it seems.

Barbecue varies from state to state and even regionally within states. Being raised in North Carolina has made me quite sensitive to these variations. From the day I learned to chew food, I was fed Barbecue and repeatedly lectured on the two varieties of this seemingly sacred pork product. I was taught that there is Eastern North Carolina barbecue and Western North Carolina barbecue. After a while, I began to notice that people from the Eastern and Western parts of the state both seemed fiercely proud of their variety of Barbecue. My family, being from the East, holds a unwavering preference for Eastern style. Both the East and the West claim their barbecue is undoubtably the best. While interviewing him for this article, my Grandfather perfectly exemplified this by simply stating, "If it's from the east, it tastes good, if it's from the west, it tastes bad." I have always found this age old competition fascinating. Having tried both types of barbecue, and finding them both delicious, I was inspired to do some research in order to find out which variety was truly the best.

To conduct my research I consulted my Great Aunt and Uncle, Dr. Frank Dawkins and Dr. Karen Dawkins, who recently became certified BBQ judges for the North Carolina Barbecue Society. (The fact that there is an entire society devoted to Barbecue demonstrates just how seriously North Carolinians take their BBQ.) The first thing I asked them was to explain the difference between Eastern and Western style.

They explained that Eastern style BBQ (pictured below) is made with a vinegar-based sauce that usually also includes sugar and red pepper. This variety is made with meat from many different areas of the pig.

Then they explained that Western-style BBQ (pictured below), also called Lexington style, is also made with a vinegar based sauce but that sauce includes a tomato or ketchup component. Western BBQ is usually sweeter, redder in color, and made only with pork shoulder.

After learning the difference between the two types of NC barbecue, I asked them as certified Barbecue Judges how they evaluate the quality of BBQ. They told me that BBQ judging is pretty subjective but overall BBQ is judged on three things: taste, tenderness, and appearance. I then proceeded to ask them the big question, Which is better, Eastern style BBQ or Western style BBQ? Their answer was that there is no real way of telling. They said because people seem to favor the barbecue from their hometown or region, Eastern style wins in the East, and Western style wins in the West, because the judges for competitions in the East are usually from the East, and judges for competitions in the West are usually from the West. I appreciated the honesty of this answer, but I realized I had to deem my research inconclusive.

It was difficult to accept that I will never know which style of barbecue is truly the best, but at least I am now very educated about regional pork flavors. My hope is that one day the people of North Carolina will accept that all BBQ is delectable and be united by their love of pork.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Swoon

I Started Dating A Guy Before Quarantine, But Now We Rarely Speak Unless I Double-Text

"He's really nice and cute and I like being around him when we see each other, but he's awful at communication."

Each week Swoonie B will give her advice on anonymous topics submitted by readers. Want to Ask Swoonie B something related to dating and relationships? Fill out this form here — it's anonymous.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

This Is Exactly What You Should Eat Today In Quarantine, Based On Your Zodiac Sign

You've probably been eating it the past three months,

If we added up all the minutes of my life I've stood in front of the fridge or pantry mindlessly glazing over options, it would probably amount to several years longer than I'd care to admit.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

If You Don't Think People Are Legitimately Scared To Stay In Lockdown, Think Again

People are terrified of what could happen if states stay in lockdown too long.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to be the topic of discussion for most U.S. residents. From federal reopening guidelines to individual state timelines, the country is all over the place. This sparks conversations within the news, social media, and in family homes about the consequences of reopening the country incorrectly.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

If You Don't Think People Are Legitimately Scared To Reopen States, You're Not Looking Hard Enough

People are terrified of what could happen if states begin reopening too early.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to be the topic of discussion for most U.S. residents. From federal reopening guidelines to individual state timelines, the country is all over the place. This sparks conversations within the news, social media, and in family homes about the consequences of reopening the country incorrectly.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

Feel A Lil' Better: Because You Need To Stretch It Out

Your weekly wellness boost from Odyssey.

No matter how good (or bad) you'd describe your health, one thing is for sure: a little boost is ALWAYS a good idea. Whether that's reading a new, motivating book, or listening to a song that speaks to your soul, there are plenty of resources to help your health thrive on any given day.

Flexibility is an important part of life. Yes, you need to be able to go with the flow and adjust when needed, but literal, physical flexibility is equally handy. Not only does increased flexibility keep you safe from injury each time you work out, but a good stretch session is incredibly soothing after a long day. Your body goes through a lot! It needs to cool down and get loose after all the activities you put it through.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

5 Amazing Things That Happened To Me When I Took Just A Week Off From Social Media

I've taken one-week off social media, and here's what I learned.


You’ll think clearer.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments