Memphis in May: May the Best Swine Win

20080521_MemphisinMay.jpg"You eat barbecue; you don’t grill on the barbecue," one Memphis in May competition judge and friend recently enlightened me. "It's a food, not an appliance."

You would have been pierced with a grill fork last weekend if you misused the word at Memphis in May, the world's largest pork roast competition. Vying for over $90,000 in prizes and bragging rights, 261 teams gathered, including presence from Estonia, Norway and Belgium. Some categories included: best whole hog, best shoulder and best ribs, with entirely separate titles for best sauces. Team names are almost as important as the meat itself. Some of our favorites include: Sweet Swine o’ Mine, Rib Ticklers, and Rhoda Brown’s Smokie Fatties. Typically, most phrases involving "fatties" are good.

Saturday, the party vibe stiffened up when judges sampled the various forms of hog. Check here for full results, and a regularly-updated blog from The Commercial Appeal, the local Memphis daily. Washington Post Food editor Joe Yonan was also on site, sticking his camera into the meat-smoking pits and chatting with grillmasters throughout the weekend. Yonan admitted to me, his moleskin still smelled of beautiful hickory earlier this week when he revisited his notes for the article.