Northerners have non-traditional views on barbecue - DatelineCarolina

Northerners have non-traditional views on barbecue

A Northerner's barbecue meal is much simpler than a Southern plate, with the dominant food being hot dogs or hamburgers grilled outdoors. A Northerner's barbecue meal is much simpler than a Southern plate, with the dominant food being hot dogs or hamburgers grilled outdoors.
By Jay Michaels
To South Carolinians, barbecue is about the pork and sauce.

To Northerne­rs, however, barbecue-ing is about the environment. Hot dogs and hamburgers are flamed on the grill. Salads are covered in dressing. Beer and cocktails are passed around.

Hoke Powell II, however, is a Southerner who see things differently. The marketing specialist for Keller Williams in Anderson looks forward to barbecuing with friends and family as much as everyone else.  But, to Powell, words are just words. The method is what matters.

“Barbecuing in the South is not only a tradition, but something taken very seriously,” Powell said. “Either with cooking methods or the sauce, nothing can be a miss.”

Powell's co-worker, Dawn Drucker, however, moved here from up north. Although she had traditions of her own, living here changed all that. 

Living up north, barbecue meant we were having a party, and serving hot dogs and hamburgers,” Drucker said. “However, since living in the South now for 13 years, barbecue means slow cooking pork, ribs and some of the best barbecue sauces, which are also homemade and not store bought. I prefer the Southern barbecue now.”

Their other colleague, also a Yankee, has maintained her stance. Despite living in South Carolina since 2004, Pat Baird conjures up notions of the atmosphere when thinking of barbecue.

“I have grown up with the meaning of a barbecue to be a get-together of friends to share some good food: burgers, hot dogs, chicken, steak or anything else you wanted to grill,” Baird said.

“As much as I love living here in the South, I have to admit Southern barbecue doesn't really entice me,” Baird confesses. “I guess it’s because I'm not into the sauces too much and there is no party.” 

For Baird, a true Northerner, the ability to enjoy good food with good people matters more than the specific way it’s cooked or the sauce used.

And Baird is not alone. Her friend, Cindy Lenkner, moved from Pennsylvania to South Carolina two years ago. The retired fast-food worker also prefers the atmosphere and enjoying the people around her. Yet, she also enjoys a good meal. Pork, burgers or hot dogs, the food doesn’t matter. If it’s good, she’ll eat it.

Then there's Emma Swanson, a University of South Carolina senior.  The public relations student from New Jersey has never attended a Southern barbecue.

I think about a barbecue as having hot dogs and hamburgers on a grill,” Swanson said.

However, some Northerners have gotten used to both. Baird’s husband, Bill, owner of Anderson Closet and Woodworking, likes both ways of barbecuing.

“I enjoy the sauces and a good burger at a party,” Bill Baird said.

No matter how you slice the tomato, it’s all about the food and having a party. Whether you’re slow cooking pork or grilling a burger, it’s all about eating good food and having a good time.

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