Perry’s decades-old barb about Carolina barbecue comes back to bite him

posted at 11:25 am on September 27, 2011 by Tina Korbe

Don’t mess with North Carolinians and their barbecue. Pick a side, maybe — East v. West, vinegar v. tomato, whole hog v. pork shoulders — but, whatever you do, don’t just dismiss the meat of the matter as flavorless. That’s what Rick Perry did in 1992 — and he’s still paying a price.

Apparently, in 1992, when Perry was Texas agriculture commissioner and the city of Houston hosted the Republican National Convention, he tried Eastern North Carolina BBQ from King’s of Kinston and reacted to it with this: “I’ve had road kill that tasted better than that.”

Last week, Raleigh News and Observer staffers Rob Christensen and Craig Jarvis served up the decades-old quote in a quick blog post — and North Carolinians are none too pleased with Mr. Perry at the moment.

Presumably, Perry’s a fan of Texas barbecue — inexplicably made with beef — but that’s no redeeming quality in the eyes of NC residents, who reject even the slightest variations from the tried-and-true rival recipes that made the state famous for its BBQ. Even South Carolinians’ mustard-based BBQ sauces don’t impress their northern neighbors. Beef-based barbecue? Forget about it.

Plus, as King’s owner Wilbur King quipped, “[Perry] has admitted to eating road kill, and knowing what it tastes like. How can this person possibly judge any food?”

Incidentally, I’m with the North Carolinians here. I grew up in Oklahoma, but I never tasted real barbecue until I moved to Arkansas. I’m a Razorback, people, and, in God’s — excuse me, Hog — country, barbecue comes only from pigs.

But does any of this actually matter, politically speaking? It just might. The L.A. Times, on barbecue backlash:

“Holy Smoke” co-author John Shelton Reed, a retired University of North Carolina sociology professor, said Monday that people in his state do not mess around with this form of cooking. “Barbecue,” he said, “is the third rail of North Carolina politics.”

Don’t laugh.

In 1984, Democrat Rufus Edmisten, while running for governor, happened to call barbecue “that damnable stuff.” He lost, and blamed his intemperate description of barbecue. Recently, in a letter to supporters about the 2012 Democratic National Convention coming to Charlotte, N.C. first lady Michele Obama mentioned the southern hospitality, diversity “and of course, great barbecue.”

That landed with a thud.

It is well known in North Carolina that Charlotte does not have great barbecue.

“Even the News & Observer said if she knew of a good barbecue place in Charlotte to please let them know,” said Reed.

It’s a little early to make predictions, but let’s put it this way: Barack Obama’s victory over John McCain in North Carolina was razor thin–49.9% to McCain’s 49.5%. If Obama loses the state in 2012… well, could have been that barbecue snafu.

See? Southerners — of which Carolinians are in some ways the epitome — take food very seriously.

P.S. Shameless plug for a friend: If you’ve never tried Pork Barrel BBQ sauce, buy it! You’ll like it.


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catmman on September 27, 2011 at 12:34 PM

Thanks.

a capella on September 27, 2011 at 2:13 PM

he tried Eastern North Carolina BBQ from King’s of Kinston and reacted to it with this: “I’ve had road kill that tasted better than that.”

Ok, I actually live in Kinston, and have eaten at King’s several times in my life. There’s one less than 2 miles from my house. Sadly, their BBQ does taste like roadkill, lol. There’s a lot of good BBQ in Eastern NC, but King’s BBQ ain’t one of them.

xblade on September 27, 2011 at 2:16 PM

I’ve lived in Raleigh for the past 12 years. Perry is right. The local bar-b-q tastes like dirt with battery acid.

MJBrutus on September 27, 2011 at 2:23 PM

This reminds me of the wars over beans in chili.

LarryD on September 27, 2011 at 12:18 PM

You mean I slept through the war over beans in chili?

oldleprechaun on September 27, 2011 at 2:23 PM

True enough. Everyone has their own taste :) I find here in South Texas the little hole in the wall Mexican restaurants serve the best Mexican food!

terryannonline on September 27, 2011 at 12:04 PM

You have to admit that Pollos Hermanos is pretty darned good :-)

MJBrutus on September 27, 2011 at 2:26 PM

You have to admit that Pollos Hermanos is pretty darned good :-)

MJBrutus on September 27, 2011 at 2:26 PM

Haven’t eaten there. Where is that located?

terryannonline on September 27, 2011 at 2:29 PM

You mean I slept through the war over beans in chili?

oldleprechaun on September 27, 2011 at 2:23 PM

It was a short war in which we who believe beans just take up space that could be filled with beef killed and quartered the bean believers and cooked up a fine pot of the brown stuff with their various edible bits.

I have to agree with Perry on the BBQ thing. When I’ve been fortunate enough to be in North Carolina and tasted their BBQ, I did NOT get what all the fuss is about. There is a lot of great BBQ all across this country, but that mushy, stringy stuff did NOT qualify as great.

stvnscott on September 27, 2011 at 2:29 PM

My favorite is McCall’s in Goldsboro followed by Smithfield’s then Wilber’s …which sits virtually at the end of Seymour Johnson AFB’s flight line.

The Ugly American on September 27, 2011 at 2:31 PM

Just when I’d written Perry off, he shows surprising flashes of insight.East Carolina BBQ is VILE stuff.

And Tina, while I’ve never had BBQ in Arkansas, I’m guessing it’s probably closer to Memphis style than East Carolina style. They are two very different things. Memphis style BBQ is a trip to culinary nirvana, but East Carolina is horrid stuff.

CJ on September 27, 2011 at 2:32 PM

terryannonline on September 27, 2011 at 2:29 PM

If you were a “Breaking Bad” fan, you would know :-)

MJBrutus on September 27, 2011 at 2:33 PM

Las Cuatros Milpas, in San Diego oh how I miss you…

right2bright on September 27, 2011 at 11:49 AM

.
Next you’ll be going on and on about Rubio’s and “fish tacos” …

ExpressoBold on September 27, 2011 at 2:33 PM

Next you’ll be going on and on about Rubio’s and “fish tacos” …

ExpressoBold on September 27, 2011 at 2:33 PM

They are good, as are Wahoo’s, but have you eaten at Las Cuatros Milpas?

right2bright on September 27, 2011 at 2:40 PM

This thread is making me hungry.

stvnscott on September 27, 2011 at 2:44 PM

I have to agree with Perry on the BBQ thing. When I’ve been fortunate enough to be in North Carolina and tasted their BBQ, I did NOT get what all the fuss is about. There is a lot of great BBQ all across this country, but that mushy, stringy stuff did NOT qualify as great.

stvnscott on September 27, 2011 at 2:29 PM

That mushy, stringy stuff IS NOT BBQ. That’s what’s left after you make the BBQ.

There is great BBQ in NC. Also, there is some god-awful BBQ to be found as well.

The mom-&-pop operations are the best — if the gov’t hasn’t killed them all off yet. I haven’t been down that way since the night race in Charlotte a few years ago, way back when Hopenchange wasn’t a bad joke to all — only a sinister phrase that hypnotized the foolish.

hillbillyjim on September 27, 2011 at 3:01 PM

This thread is making me hungry.

stvnscott on September 27, 2011 at 2:44 PM

No kidding, barbecue and now fish tacos! Two of my favorites.

Fallon on September 27, 2011 at 3:03 PM

Perry is a politician who should know better than to bash
another state’s cuisine; therefore, Perry is a dumb politician.

Amjean on September 27, 2011 at 3:19 PM

I like all BBQ, some better then others. I like pork better then beef but I still like beef BBQ. In Des Moines we have a local guy that has great BBQ sauce, he serves it on pork and beef. This sauce is so good that last time I was there I overheard a woman say “this sauce is so good I’d eat it on cat sh*t”. This place is a little hole in the wall joint, yet when you talk BBQ in Des Moines he is the gold standard. He has won many awards for his sauce, yes even in south Carolina and Texas. Who knew you could get great BBQ in the middle of Iowa? The fact that we have the best beef and pork might help a little.

IowaWoman on September 27, 2011 at 12:19 PM

Growing up Sioux City, we always had great beef and pork for barbecuing. And we always had it with Cookie’s, quite possibly the best BBQ sauce known to man.

steebo77 on September 27, 2011 at 3:23 PM

.
Next you’ll be going on and on about Rubio’s and “fish tacos” …

ExpressoBold on September 27, 2011 at 2:33 PM

What a coincidence! I am reading your post while I am eating
a fish taco! Tilapia with onion, cilantro – with a squeeze
of lime – I add salsa —really good!

Amjean on September 27, 2011 at 3:23 PM

Alternate headline:

Barbeque Barb Bites Boob

hillbillyjim on September 27, 2011 at 3:24 PM

What a coincidence! I am reading your post while I am eating
a fish taco! Tilapia with onion, cilantro – with a squeeze
of lime – I add salsa —really good!

Amjean on September 27, 2011 at 3:23 PM

Yum!

terryannonline on September 27, 2011 at 3:27 PM

Anybody that doesn’t think you can make great barbeque with beef hasn’t eaten at Sonny Bryan’s Smokehouse in Dallas. People line up out the door everyday to get their brisket on. At the original location when they run out of meat they close the doors. If you want to eat there you have to be ready to eat barbeque for brunch because many times they run out before they can even get through an entire lunch service.

Heftyjo on September 27, 2011 at 3:36 PM

Gotta say, no discussion of barbeque is complete without The BBQ Song.

Rip Ford on September 27, 2011 at 3:40 PM

What’s that old adage about the fly in the vinegar bottle?

I’m no big fan of BBQ, but I recall eating at a BBQ joint near Bragg and wasn’t too impressed. And there’s a couple joints outside Ft. Polk, LA that were OK, but I thot their Korean was better. Then there’s this joint in Austin, TX on 6th St near I-35 that had me dropping in on a regular basis.

All in all, poking a region about their prized cuisine should be just a matter of good-natured ribbing.

AH_C on September 27, 2011 at 3:42 PM

Perhaps Hot Air will put up a BBQ post and we can submit recipes!

Amjean on September 27, 2011 at 3:48 PM

I’m a Texan, but I really miss good NC BBQ sometimes. I might even like it better.

WannabeAnglican on September 27, 2011 at 3:51 PM

Ok, I actually live in Kinston, and have eaten at King’s several times in my life. There’s one less than 2 miles from my house. Sadly, their BBQ does taste like roadkill, lol. There’s a lot of good BBQ in Eastern NC, but King’s BBQ ain’t one of them.

xblade on September 27, 2011 at 2:16 PM

I’m from Kinston too! You are dead on about King’s…

missykat16 on September 27, 2011 at 3:55 PM

What a coincidence! I am reading your post while I am eating
a fish taco! Tilapia with onion, cilantro – with a squeeze
of lime – I add salsa —really good!

Amjean on September 27, 2011 at 3:23 PM

Fish is cooked how? Grilled? Broiled? Fried?

a capella on September 27, 2011 at 4:04 PM

Tina sweetheart, we barbecue EVERYTHING in Texas. I don’t know where you got the idea that barbecue in Texas necessarily means beef, although it certainly can.

My personal favorite is a smoked country style pork rib or some baby backs with a nice espresso BBQ sauce, but how can anyone not like a slow cooked, smoky, tender, scrumptious beef brisket?

Heck, I may even fire up the smoker to make some fish tacos.

Speechlesstx on September 27, 2011 at 4:25 PM

We Texans think we got a pretty good grip on the whole BBQ thing, too, especially as seein’ how’s the notion of slow-smoked meat originated out here in cattle country (home of the Bar-B-Q ranch), with them Mexican caballeros and their cabritos.

To a Texan, BBQ comes from beef, pure and simple. Pigs are good for ham, pork chops, sausage, bacon, chitlins and smoked hog hocks, but most assuredly, NOT Barbecue.

skydaddy on September 27, 2011 at 4:25 PM

To a Texan, BBQ comes from beef, pure and simple. Pigs are good for ham, pork chops, sausage, bacon, chitlins and smoked hog hocks, but most assuredly, NOT Barbecue.

skydaddy on September 27, 2011 at 4:25 PM

A hog’s shoulder isn’t good for much else, other than sausage. A nice butt or picnic, smoked slow till it’s fork tender and shredded…..skillet cornbread, baked beans, sliced tomatoes, and tangy slaw. Homemade peach ice cream for dessert.

a capella on September 27, 2011 at 4:48 PM

McDonalds has the monopoly game right now. McRib, now that is good bbq

TheQuestion on September 27, 2011 at 4:50 PM

To a Texan, BBQ comes from beef, pure and simple. Pigs are good for ham, pork chops, sausage, bacon, chitlins and smoked hog hocks, but most assuredly, NOT Barbecue.

You must be south of the panhandle. I forget that most Texans don’t realize the panhandle is a part of Texas, but it is, and we LOVE to barbecue pork. What, you eat BEEF ribs? Surely not.

Speechlesstx on September 27, 2011 at 4:54 PM

When I came to Indiana from Oklahoma, I was amazed to discover that they put macaroni in chili. I had never heard of such a thing.

It was outrageous.

Terrye on September 27, 2011 at 4:58 PM

Brilliant. Good job, media!

Who has the better BBQ ? And which candidate has most insulted a region’s BBQ ?

What better criteria upon which to base ones choice of GOP Primary candidate. As if this country weren’t boned enough, we have this kind of asinine stupidity to clinch it for us.

deadrody on September 27, 2011 at 5:00 PM

When I came to Indiana from Oklahoma, I was amazed to discover that they put macaroni in chili. I had never heard of such a thing.

It was outrageous.

Gotta be that funky Cincinnati chili. Did they put weird stuff like cinnamon, cloves and chocolate in it, too?

Speechlesstx on September 27, 2011 at 5:03 PM

Being a Texan Perry just had never tried real barbecue most likely. East Carolina barbecue is quite delicious, but an acquired taste for foreigners I suppose.No harm done truthfully though.

Southernblogger on September 27, 2011 at 5:05 PM

Seriously, now. Do we even know where Mitt stands on barbecue? For all we know, he could be on a strict raw food vegan diet. This is one more issue where, you may not agree with Perry, but at least he will let you know where he stands.

Now recipes: For a starter, I like to halve and seed a few jalapenos, stuff em with a chunk of cream cheese and wrap a nice thick piece of bacon around the whole thing. Put it on the grill until the bacon is crispy and the jalapeño is slightly charred. Jalapenos loose the heat and become slightly sweet when you grill them.

Main course is obviously a nice rare T bone. Be sure to get steaks that are good and thick, an inch or more. You might have to ask the butcher to cut you some. Season it with fresh ground pepper and coarse sea salt.

My favorite dessert is grilled pineapple slices. Serve them with a scoop of blue bell vanilla bean ice cream and carmel sauce.

bitsy on September 27, 2011 at 5:13 PM

Also, BBQ sauce is for the kids to dunk their chicken nuggets. I am not sure why you would want it on a decent piece off barbecue.

bitsy on September 27, 2011 at 5:15 PM

This just goes to show you how silly people are-to worry about an election based on beef v. pork!

Bullhead on September 27, 2011 at 5:19 PM

Here I am, stuck at my desk…

…and you guys are going on about food. Good food, too.

Damn you. Damn you all to hell.

BobMbx on September 27, 2011 at 5:22 PM

For those in Raleigh, best places are The Pit, Coopers, and, surprisingly, at the RBC Center during games.

Anyhow, Perry is now dead to me. I’d vote for Huntsman over Perry at this point BBQ is a religion in NC. Vinegar based rules.

William Teach on September 27, 2011 at 5:23 PM

This just goes to show you how silly people are-to worry about an election based on beef v. pork!

Bullhead on September 27, 2011 at 5:19 PM

Why we’ve been electing politicians obsessed with pork for quite some time and we can see where that’s gotten us. I’d say it’s past time we had some red meat in government.

Rip Ford on September 27, 2011 at 5:27 PM

I’m a Texan, but I really miss good NC BBQ sometimes. I might even like it better.

WannabeAnglican on September 27, 2011 at 3:51 PM

It’s all good, truth be told.

A nice butt or picnic, smoked slow till it’s fork tender and shredded…..skillet cornbread, baked beans, sliced tomatoes, and tangy slaw. Homemade peach ice cream for dessert.

a capella on September 27, 2011 at 4:48 PM

Dude(or dudette?), are you from Southwest Virginia?

…cuz that sounds like a trip to Grandmother hbj’s house all over again (or a trip to right here on a good day, for that matter).

hillbillyjim on September 27, 2011 at 5:27 PM

Texas will BBQ anything

at Woody’s BBQ in Centerville I can get Bacon Wrapped Quail cooked in a Giant Gun shaped Pit.
In Austin you can’t beat the food at Salt Lick, bring cash only!

Pigs, goats, beef, you call it, we run it! Perry’s inauguration had BBQ that was amazing!

conservador on September 27, 2011 at 5:41 PM

Also, BBQ sauce is for the kids to dunk their chicken nuggets. I am not sure why you would want it on a decent piece off barbecue.

bitsy on September 27, 2011 at 5:15 PM

Honey is for dipping chicken nuggets in. BBQ sauce is for pulled pork sandwiches and burgers.

Speechlesstx on September 27, 2011 at 5:57 PM

Tina, please tell me you have had Craig’s barbecue from DeVall’s Bluff and you’re not talking about Corky’s.

ArkCon on September 27, 2011 at 6:10 PM

Here in CO, ANYTHING can be BBQ – beef, pork, chicken, turkey, duck, etc. Just slap some sauce on it.

Frankly, BBQ just isn’t one of my favorites. We do have GREAT Mexican food though (and Taco Bell is NOT Mexican food!).

Common Sense on September 27, 2011 at 6:15 PM

North Carolina bbq is disgusting.

Ricki on September 27, 2011 at 6:28 PM

Seriously, now. Do we even know where Mitt stands on barbecue?

Mitt was against BBQ when he was governor of MA, but he has since come out in favor of it.

Oh, and if you ever get the opportunity to order BBQ in MA? DON’T. Just don’t. It was even worse than East Carolina BBQ.

CJ on September 27, 2011 at 6:43 PM

Why does this thread remind me of this???

BigWyo on September 27, 2011 at 7:03 PM

Also, BBQ sauce is for the kids to dunk their chicken nuggets. I am not sure why you would want it on a decent piece off barbecue.

bitsy on September 27, 2011 at 5:15 PM

A good dry rub barbecue is awesome. I hate sloppy sweet sauces, disgusting vomitous kiddy-goop.

ebrown2 on September 27, 2011 at 7:15 PM

What a coincidence! I am reading your post while I am eating
a fish taco! Tilapia with onion, cilantro – with a squeeze
of lime – I add salsa —really good!

Amjean on September 27, 2011 at 3:23 PM

Fish is cooked how? Grilled? Broiled? Fried?

a capella on September 27, 2011 at 4:04 PM

grilled

Amjean on September 27, 2011 at 8:01 PM

Perry apparently hasn’t ever had the BBQ from Lexington or Salisbury, NC. These are the two top BBQ areas and the Newton News & Observer is correct, no BBQ worth stopping for in Charlotte, or Newton for that matter.

I suspect Perry will show up for the BBQ festival in Lexington if he is still in the race by then. He should try the crow!

livermush on September 27, 2011 at 9:02 PM

Ha ha! I bet he was right.

A Texan

kg598301 on September 27, 2011 at 10:42 PM

Was Perry still a Democrat when he made those remarks? He campaigned for Al Gore in ’88, so it could be that he hadn’t entirely completed his ultimate flip-flop to being a Conservative Republican and maybe these BBQ remarks don’t count?

popularpeoplesfront on September 28, 2011 at 10:32 AM

Beef BBQ vs. Pork BBQ?

What about Chicken BBQ?

AverageJoe on September 28, 2011 at 10:33 AM

Or turkey wings down in Florida?

AverageJoe on September 28, 2011 at 10:34 AM

What a coincidence! I am reading your post while I am eating
a fish taco! Tilapia with onion, cilantro – with a squeeze
of lime – I add salsa —really good!

Amjean on September 27, 2011 at 3:23 PM

Fish is cooked how? Grilled? Broiled? Fried?

a capella on September 27, 2011 at 4:04 PM

grilled

Amjean on September 27, 2011 at 8:01 PM

Personally, I prefer my fish fried for fish tacos. Some Mahi Mahi r cod with a tempura or beer batter and the white sauce on this page. Fresh tortillas are a must.

Fish tacos are one of the top 10 comfort foods of all time in my book. Now I’m hungry again…

Speechlesstx on September 28, 2011 at 12:00 PM

I’ve always preferred beef BBQ ribs over pork BBQ ribs, and steak over pork chops, but I have had some good pulled pork since I moved to MD from CA.

Count to 10 on September 28, 2011 at 12:18 PM

MJBrutus, if you live in Raleigh, go to The Pit, have barbecue, then see if you can still make that blasphemous claim. The crap you bought in Food Lion in the plastic container does NOT qualify as something you can judge East Caroliina BBQ on – I also live in Raleigh.

PJ Emeritus on September 28, 2011 at 12:36 PM

Dude, four more years of this shi’ite and we’ll all be eating BBQ ‘possum, pigeon, pole-cat, city rat, and just about anything else that has four legs, (or two legs and wings.)

hillbillyjim on September 27, 2011 at 12:50 PM

By firelight, I should add (candles will be for company).

hillbillyjim on September 27, 2011 at 12:51 PM

Heck, we’ll be eating things with six legs and glad to have them.

Mary in LA on September 28, 2011 at 6:00 PM

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