Translating Chuck's Bar B Que Menu in Opelika, Alabama
From May 22 to May 31, I traveled across country, from Washington, D.C., to San Francisco, California. Here's a snippet from that week.
En route to Montgomery, Alabama, Chuck's Bar B Que, sits off the highway in the nearby town of Opelika. On Saturday, the joint's CHIPPED sandwich is buy-one, get-one free. But only 22¢ more, the CHOPPED sandwich wasn't part of the promo. The difference? Besides a vowel? The cashier, sporting an Auburn University hat one Saturday a few weeks ago, had clearly never been asked this before. People just knew here. She acted like she was explaining a foreign language.
Eventually, we were deep in a convoluted Who's On First–style conversation about the sandwich iterations. The entire Chuck's staff chimed in, attempting to clarify. To make it worse, there was a third option besides CHIPPED and CHOPPED called CHIPPED ON BLOCK. Oh, dear. Below is a menu glossary for Chuck's Bar B Que visitors, to avoid the convoluted barbecue babel we faced.
CHOPPED: Meat is sliced into bite-sized pieces, later topped with a puddle of house barbecue sauce. More definitions after the jump.
CHIPPED: After marinating in Chuck's sauce, the meat is cooked over an open fire, then gets all "chipped"-up (not chopped-up). CHIPPED here insinuates a finer cut, or minced-like texture, as opposed to the rougher-cut CHOPPED option. Twenty-two cents cheaper, this one has more sauce and slightly less meat. (It's also owner Chuck Ferrell's favorite.)
CHIPPED ON BLOCK (not pictured): Same as above, but the meat doesn't marinate first. Instead, the sauce is added after, similar to the CHOPPED, but here the meat is chipped-up (instead of chopped) like the CHIPPED.
The confusion here lies in the CHOPPED and CHIPPED ON A BLOCK naming. Since both involve scoops of sauce added after chop or chippage, shouldn't there be consistency in the titles? Seems like it should be CHOPPED ON BLOCK and CHIPPED ON BLOCK, or CHOPPED and CHIPPED, with the third option, the marinated one, named something unique.
CHICKEN: All of the above are pork, by default, but chicken CHIPPED is available for the same price as pork CHOPPED ($3.10). Yes, this was a very comical part of the conversation. Staffers looked very confused when I asked if CHOPPED and CHIPPED ON BLOCK were also available in chicken form. "I.. guess ... so?" was the general consensus.
ALL THE WAY (for any of the above): Unless otherwise requested, all sandwiches also get pickles and "barbecue slaw" (regular cole slaw mixed with Chuck's barbecue sauce) on the bun. Though the house sauce is supposedly "secret," I initiated a game with one staffer where he nodded when I guessed ingredients correctly. Nods went to: ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar and "miscellaneous spices." Basically a bunch of condiments all mixed up. Plain meat and bun is also available upon a "not all the way" request.
Chuck's Bar B Que
905 Short Avenue, Opelika AL 36801 (map)