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Hog on Spit
Memphis means barbecue--there are more than 100 rib joints in the "Pork Barbecue Capital of the World."

-- Corky's BBQ (5259 Poplar Ave.) is cooked in the old fashioned southern tradition. They place top choice meats in open and closed BBQ pits with hickory chips and charcoal and cook them at low temperatures. Corky's Pulled Pork Corky's cooks it's pork shoulders for 22 hours and it's ribs for over 7 hours. If you have ever had meat cooked long and slow and experienced fall off the bone tenderness and distinctive hickory flavor, you can begin to understand why Corky's BBQ is legendary. Corky's Pulled PorkAfter the cooking is complete Corky's chefs hand pull the pork shoulder servings from the bone to select only the choicest of portions. Automation seen in other restaurants may be faster and less expensive, but at Corky's, they believe in the traditional hand-pulled style. Corky's BBQ is then basted with a special blend of tangy sauces and served piping hot with a number of special Corky's side dishes. Visit their website at: CORKY'S BBQ
corkys bbq memphis Corky's Dry Ribs
Corky's Dry Ribs

-- Or take your barbecue at the same tables Elvis used at the immensely atmospheric Sun Studio Cafe (706 Union Ave).


-- For ribs, fried catfish, and red beans and rice, along with nightly live blues, book a table at B.B. King's (Second and Beale St).

Rib Platter fried catfish
redbeans and rice bbkings

When considering barbecue, tradition is particularly important. Barbecue is not easy to prepare-- it requires hours of tending a hot smoky fire, and vigilant monitoring of the roasting meat. Few people would choose to spend their time in a covered shack, inundated with smoke (especially during the blazing summers of the South). But barbecue endures. Despite encroaching health regulations, despite inconvenience, and despite the prevalence of fast food restaurants all over the country, people still eat barbecue, and "pit men" still hone their craft.

The "pit men" who painstakingly tend the fire and smoke the meat that becomes barbecue are sometimes moonlighting from day jobs to compete in innumerable Competition Barbecue Contests nationwide. Most Southerners take their barbecue very seriously, refining methods of preparation and fiercely defending the preeminence of their favorite sauce recipes. There are few things in the South more universally revered than good barbecue, and deconstructing barbecue is a study in the culture of the South. Unlike most food preparation in the South, which is dominated by women, barbecue is a male preserve.

pit pitmaster

When travelling through the South, your best bet for authentic and carefully prepared Southern cuisine is any of the many barbecue restaurants that dot the landscape. Don't be fooled by the casual atmosphere in most of these barbecue joints; these are the places where the legacy of Southern food is vigilantly protected. In the Southern United States, barbecue is a cherished cultural icon. In other areas of America, "barbecue" is a verb-- Northerners barbecue food on the backyard grill. In the South, however, barbecue is most definitely a noun. A barbecue is a gathering of food aficionados who appreciate the aroma of roasted meat that has been painstakingly smoked for several hours. Barbecue itself is chopped, sliced, or pulled meat liberally doused with a variety of (closely guarded) sauces. This meat is usually pork, unless you are in Texas or some parts of Kentucky (where barbecue means beef or mutton).

Hog on Fire

The roads of the Southern United States are lined with a succession of grinning pigs, advertising the availability of barbecue in countless restaurants. The origins of barbecue in the South, however, are traceable to a period long before the smiling pig became a fixture on Southern roadsides. The etymology of the term is vague, but the most plausible theory states that the word "barbecue" is a derivative of the West Indian term "barbacoa," which denotes a method of slow-cooking meat over hot coals. Bon Appetit magazine blithely informs its readers that the word comes from an extinct tribe in Guyana who enjoyed "cheerfully spitroasting captured enemies." The Oxford English Dictionary traces the word back to Haiti, and others claim (somewhat implausibly) that "barbecue" actually comes from the French phrase "barbe a queue", meaning "from head to tail." Proponents of this theory point to the whole-hog cooking method espoused by some barbecue chefs.

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