Meat may be the undeniable core of American barbecue, but as long as American barbecue is part of the pantheon of southern cooking, it will not stand alone. From the saltine crackers and pickles of Lockhart, to the lard-fried potatoes (you heard me) of Kansas City, to the barbecue slaw of Lexington, the side dishes served with barbecue are often as exciting as the main course. I indulged in this fact on my recent trip through the Carolinas, looking forward to the $2 servings of local flavor that flanked each serving of smoked pork.
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In the good state of North Carolina, barbecue means chopped pork. No fatty ribs or spice-rubbed brisket—just the whole hog or shoulder (depending on the region) slowly smoked overnight. For your viewing pleasure, here's a look at some classic barbecue joints in the state, including Wilber's, Lexington, and Allen and Son.
"The ribs were some of the smokiest, moistest specimens I've had the privilege of eating." [Photographs: Chichi Wang] More Notes from the South Rolling Bones Barbecue in Atlanta » Wilber's Barbecue and Currituck BBQ Company » Flip Burger Boutique in Atlanta » Busy Bee in Atlanta » In North Carolina, barbecue generally means one thing and one thing only: smoked pig, chopped up and served with a partly spicy, partly vinegar-based sauce (more on the West-East sauce divide later). Allen & Son in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, may be known for its chopped barbecue, but the restaurant also turns out a mean rack of ribs. At the risk of incensing die-hard North Carolinian chopped barbecue lovers everywhere, I'm going to...