Ben: Carolina BBQ is Unacceptable

by Kate Steadman

Dear Ben,

I will humor your anti-everything rants, but you’ve got one major problem.  Do not, under any circumstances, go to one of the Carolinas for bbq. Please, for the love of all things decent, step away from that vinegary bastardized stuff and head to Kansas City for some REAL SAUCE.

Oklahoma Joes Ribs from flickr user Adam Slice Kuban

Oklahoma Joe's Ribs from flickr user Adam "Slice" Kuban

Your concerned friend,



25 responses to “Ben: Carolina BBQ is Unacceptable

  1. I agree — Oklahoma Joe’s ftw!

    Made a recent trip to KC worthwhile.

  2. Have you guys been to North Carolina? That vinegary barbecue is excellent. Being from a non-barbecue town I view barbecue with the same ecumenicism that other people use to view pizza.

  3. Now, comparing bbq ribs and Carolina pulled pork barbeque is apples to oranges. Come on. While it would be nothing short of sacrilege, you can order ribs at most Carolina bbq shacks. The debate between vinegar vs. non-vinegar based bbq’s is a valid, though exhausted one. But seriously, pulled pork vs. ribs?

  4. So true. So true. I would rather Rockland’s on Wisconsin than any of that greesy, mushy shite.

  5. Bagels, deli, french fries, pizza – the debate will always rage. What is needed is an open mind – enjoy for what it is, not for what you want it to be, and remember, sometimes the foodways tradition needs to be recognized. Yes, you might have a mediocre meal, but when you have the good one, your mind will open.

  6. I didn’t intend to compare ribs and pulled pork — they just photograph much better.

  7. I like Carolina BBQ

  8. You said Kansas City, but I’m pretty sure you meant Memphis. It’s okay – easy mistake ;)

  9. I find it hilarious that the best BBQ in Kansas City is called “Oklahoma Joe’s.”

  10. Anonymous Frustrated Lawyer

    No, there’s only one place for BBQ, and that’s Texas, specifically Central Texas.

  11. Texas: Ketchup + Molasses + Spices
    KC: Ketchup + Sugar + Spices
    Carolina: Ketchup + Vinegar + Spices

    Add a bit of each to each for variation, but that’s basically all we’re talking about. The vinegar (sometimes with mustard added) is essential to balance the sweet+fat of pulled pork, otherwise you feel like you’re eating a pile of grease. The heavy Texas sauce goes great with brisket. The more tomato-y KC sauce goes well with ribs, though I like Texas sauce with ribs too.

  12. Pulled pork and ribs are different animals. I have had great pulled pork in NC… Allen & Sons. Don’t think I would even think about eating ribs there.

  13. Seriously, cut the bs. BBQ from these different locales are different cuisines entirely and that’s okay. They happen to use similar ingredients but it’s okay for some people to prefer one over the other without them being treated like they are evil.

  14. Anyway people cook large slabs of meat with fire and smoke is fine in my book. Can’t we all just get along?

  15. I live 5 minutes from Oklahoma Joe’s. This is a good, good thing. They do it all well – sauce, ribs, pulled pork, brisket and the best fries and onion rings. When in Kansas City, eat at Oklahoma Joe’s.

  16. To clarify Carolina bbq that was detailed above:

    Western North Carolina BBQ = Ketchup + Vinegar + Spices
    Eastern North Carolina BBQ = Vinegar + Spices (Best!)
    South Carolina BBQ = Mustard + Vinegar + Spices
    And this is all pork.

    And I agree – you can’t compare Carolina style BBQ to ribs – they are completely different things. Completely. Can’t we all appreciate things porky and meaty?

  17. To expand upon Amy’s clarification of the complex world of regional bbq in the American South, I turn to the magic of song:

  18. I’m with you Amy! Now, if we were talking college basketball….that would be different story.

  19. As a NC native, I will remain quiet and point in the direction of this:

  20. What Amy said. Kate, I’m struggling not to send you some angry, angry email about this post. I’m a fan of the Lexington-style dip myself: vinegar, red peppers, a dash of ketchup, and I always use a little bit of nuoc mam for the glutamates. Apply liberally to chopped smoked pig. While I certainly recognize the validity of other regional cuisines, you should really leave off talking crap about the birthplace of ‘cue.

  21. Oh but Zach talking crap about barbecue is half the fun of there being a variety of barbecues in the world!

  22. But eliz, there is not a variety of barbecues in the world. There is only smoked pig, chopped or sliced, as you prefer. There’s room for argument about the correct proportions of vinegar to tomatoes and peppers in the dip, and in fact I can get by with just Texas Pete in a pinch, but that’s about all. The other regional cuisines — ribs, briskets, and such like — may well be perfectly delicious, and in fact I have a smoked brisket sandwich in front of me at the moment, but they are not barbecue.

    Oh, and South Carolina-style dip is an abomination before God. That is all.

  23. Zach (in Baltimore)

    As an ex-Kansan I should note with pride that I’ve found Arthur Bryant’s BBQ sauce for sale in the region.

    Also, despite being from Kansas, I love Carolina pulled pork as well?

    Lastly, there’s a newish place in Baltimore called Rub that has pretty good Texas Q and ridiculous green beans.

  24. Zach (in Baltimore)

    Oh, and speaking of KC, I heard that Stroud’s moved out of its ramshackle locale. Building codes are really tragic sometimes.

  25. Pingback: Tannin Salon: Let’s Talk About Beer. « The Internet Food Association

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