Sunday, February 06, 2011

Political Barbecue, 2011 Style

Whoever said Social Security is the third rail of politics clearly wasn't thinking about barbecue.  Michelle Obama stepped into the middle of a hornet's nest recently because of a single line in an email announcing the selection of Charlotte, North Carolina, as the site of the 2012 Democratic National Convention:
Charlotte is a city marked by its Southern charm, warm hospitality and an "up by the bootstraps" mentality that has propelled the city forward as one of the fastest-growing in the South. Vibrant, diverse and full of opportunity, the Queen City is home to innovative, hardworking folks with big hearts and open minds. And of course, great barbecue. [emphasis added]
This has brought snorts of derision from barbecue fans, including my friend John Shelton Reed, who always seems to come off with a great zinger for situations like these.  "Complete the sentence," he told an Associated Press reporter.  "As a barbecue town, Charlotte is one, not what it used to be; two, like Minneapolis for gumbo; three, good enough for Yankees; four, not far from Shelby."

The answer, of course, is number four.  And, the owners of two of Shelby's classic barbecue joints--Red Bridges Barbecue Lodge and Alston Bridges Barbecue--quickly extended invitations for the first lady to come in and find out what great North Carolina barbecue really tastes like.

In the spirit of fairness to Mrs. Obama, I do feel compelled to point out that the other contenders for hosting the convention were St. Louis, Minneapolis, and Cleveland.  While partisans of St. Louis and their eponymous ribs might lodge an objection (one that would be summarily overruled), surely no one would dispute that when choosing among Minneapolis, Cleveland, and Charlotte, if "quality of barbecue to be obtained therein" is one of your criteria Charlotte is going to come out far and away the winner.  Bill Spoon's Barbecue on South Boulevard alone is enough to clinch the victory.

 It does make you wonder, though, whether Lexington, N.C., was ever seriously considered for the convention.  They do have a Holiday Inn Express with a 700-square foot meeting room, including a built-in LCD projector and screen, that might just do the trick.   And no one would argue with you about the quality of the barbecue.

Except people in eastern North Carolina, of course.


John Reed said...

I love it that the mayor of Charlotte told that he'd had good barbecue in Charlotte "brought in by truck." That's class. An Atlantan would have got all huffy and defensive. Meanwhile, the Charlotte tourist people said something about how Mario Batali likes the barbecue at one place in the Queen City. QED.

Robert said...

I totally agree: it's refreshing to see a mayor with a streak of honesty for a change!

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