John Currence is having a pit built behind the Lamar Lounge that looks to me about able to hold two whole hogs. There’s already a hardwood woodpile nearby. The pits and structure are very reminiscent of those at Ricky Parker’s Scotts Barbecue in Lexington, Tennessee. Parker was the master of a style of whole hog barbecue that (through Joe York’s study of Parker while filming his wonderful documentary about whole hog cookery) has been imported to Oxford. A number of folks– Currence, Joe York, and me, for three– cooked a number of hogs that way over the last ten years.
I am very curious how John intends to serve the hogs. There’s two approaches to commercial whole hog barbecue that I know. In North Carolina, they chop the whole thing together, and you get meat mixed together from the whole hog– bits from the shoulders, ham, bacon (or middlins), tenderloin all gets combined together. This has the advantage of mixing quite dry (hams) with quite fatty (bacon) parts of the hog. I’ve had and very much enjoyed that. In middle Tennessee, the approach is to allow the customer to pick what part of the hog he wants to eat– he can ask for middling, tenderloin, shoulder, etc. When I’ve cooked hogs, I put the whole thing out in front of the people there to eat (you need a crowd), point out where everything was (can you find the tenderloin or bacon on a hog? You learn fast). At Ricky Parker’s, they have a hog right there at the counter and folks pick out what they already know they like.
This would require some customer training.
But it really is a wonderful experience of barbecue.
In any event, it looks like Oxford is about to get a real barbecue place, and I’m looking forward.
update: I had a typo swapping meet for meat that I fixed. An anonymous comment with an obviously fake email dropped in, and I corrected the typo. I don’t let in comments with fake email addresses, though…