"Nah, I ain't Jewish, I just don't dig on swine, that's all." —Jules from Pulp Fiction
Let's get this straight from the beginning: I love pork and I'm all about nose to tail dining. I've been down at the river with my Dad's team during the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, I've been in the back freezer of a butcher shop picking out ribs from primals, I've stayed up all night tending to a whole hog roasting in a pit that I dug myself, I've cured pork belly, and I've gently roasted pigs' feet in maple syrup to make a Québécois delicacy.
But I do recognize that there are a lot of people out there that don't eat pork for one reason or another. Maybe it's religious, maybe it's ethical, maybe it's just a personal preference, and I respect them all. I've adjusted menus and cooking techniques for dinner parties and other events. Such preferences can cause a problem for visitors to Memphis, where our most celebrated dishes are pork ribs and pulled pork sandwiches (often served with beans and salads that include even more pork).
Our cuisine is much more diverse than most people realize, but lots of times when folks come here in a group, someone in charge is clutching a top 10 list of famous BBQ joints and wants to visit all of them in 36 hours. This can be stressful for the vegetarian or pork-free carnivore, and it can also be pretty monotonous for the native host who really doesn't want to eat smoked pork three meals a day. (Chicagoans: how many deep dish pizzas can you really eat in a week with a fanatical guest? Philadelphians: even you're going to get tired of cheesesteaks after a while.)
Fear not, gentle readers! I have some great suggestions for delicious dishes at famous local BBQ establishments that do not involve the pig. Though I will offer the following caveat: if you're really serious about no pork touching anything you might eat, you're out of luck. Lots of times the chicken is next to the pork ribs in the smoker, or the tongs that turned pork sausage are used to plate your fries. The whole place is covered in a thin veneer of pork grease, and you're going to inhale a lot of porcine smoke just on the walk through the parking lot. With that in mind, here are some tasty alternatives that stand tall on their own and are not just an afterthought on the menu.
Cornish Game Hen At The Cozy Corner »
Charcoal-Broiled Lamb Riblets At The Rendezvous »
Turkey Tamales At A&R Bar-B-Que »
Beef Brisket At Corky's »
Smoked Turkey At The Germantown Commissary »
Beef Hot Links At Interstate Barbecue »
BBQ Tofu Nachos At RP Tracks »
Portabella Mushroom Sandwich And Smoked Jerked Chicken Wings At Central BBQ »