FROM THE DESK OF Mark Petro
Parents love to brag about their children and I am no exception. In last month’s newsletter, I bragged that my oldest daughter, Carlee, was graduating from Birmingham Southern College where she played on the school’s tennis team. Well, since last month’s newsletter, Carlee has been hired by Birmingham Southern College to be their new women’s tennis team head coach and she was named the Conference’s Most Valuable Player of the year for the second year in a row. I am one proud father! Speaking of fathers, this month we celebrate Father’s Day. Happy Father’s Day to all of the fathers out there! I sure do miss my father, who passed away three years ago at the age of 89. My father was a wonderful example to me and my four older siblings in many different ways. The saying is true that the greatest gifts in life cannot be bought with money. My father gave us many gifts that money can’t buy. The greatest gift he gave us was Faith. He loved and lived the Faith and in turn taught us to love and live the Faith. For this I will forever be grateful. If your father is still alive, please make sure to visit him and hug his neck. I sure wish I could visit and hug my father’s neck.
If you’re like most Americans, you probably refer to your summer cookouts as barbecues. Despite this common shorthand, slapping some burgers and dogs on a scorching-hot grill doesn’t resemble actual barbecue at all. What “true” barbecue means varies from region to region, but at its core, barbecue is about cooking meat slowly over woodsmoke. Celebrated food author Michael Pollan explores the origin of this American cuisine in his book, “Cooked.” After years of research and hundreds of meals, he favors the definition of barbecue provided to him by an Alabama pitmaster named Sy Erskine: “The mystic communion of fire, smoke, and meat in the total absence of water.” When you begin researching different styles of barbecue, however, you realize that nearly everything else surrounding barbecue is a matter of debate. Barbecue, like the country that created it, is influenced by multiple nations and cultures. It exists in various forms across the country, particularly in the South, its spiritual homeland. Wherever you go, you’ll find pitmasters and eaters arguing over the merits of beef versus pork, vinegar versus tomato, and many other characteristics. While it would take countless hours to become a barbecue expert, familiarizing yourself with the major styles will certainly make you the voice of wisdom at your next summer get-together. NORTH CAROLINA Perhaps the most stringent school of barbecue is found in eastern North Carolina. Here, barbecue does not so much describe a style of cooking as it does one particular item: a slow-smoked, chopped whole hog, seasoned with a sauce of vinegar and pepper. WHAT IS BARBECUE, REALLY? E xploring A merica ’ s F avorite C uisine
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