Today’s column is about food fights | Blogs

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Ideas for columns don’t always come up. This is especially true since I started writing more after Deb got sick.

Some of my friends who like my columns on politics and current affairs want one every week. But I don’t want to do that, for several reasons. First of all, there are many others that deal with these issues. There is no need for me to repeat what someone else said, probably better.

Second, the Times News prefers its columnists to write about local events and issues, and the most pressing issues are rarely purely local, though they may have effects we feel here. And finally, I just don’t want to be a purely “political” commentator.

There are times when nothing, neither national nor local, presents itself. So I have to be creative to find a topic that might be of interest to readers. Today’s column is from social networks.

Now, I freely admit that social media can get pretty bad. I’m on LinkedIn, where there’s not much exciting happening, for professional reasons; on Facebook to keep in touch with family and old friends and classmates; and on Twitter, where I promote my novels and refuse to respond to political tweets, no matter how crazy. I participate in a mailing list for arbitrators and mediators, which would annoy anyone who does not fall into these categories.

And I’m on a private sports bulletin board, which is supposed to be for discussing UNC sports, but pretty much anything can be discussed on it. And from this chart comes the inspiration for the rest of this column – food.

We all know that people are passionate about politics and religion. They can get emotional about sports teams. They become enthusiastic about their hobbies. And yes, they can have pretty strong opinions about food. Passionate, even. Angry sometimes.

The food debate I’ve seen most often is about barbecue. On the message board I mentioned, most of the discussion is about eastern North Carolina barbecue, in which “whole pork” is smoked and served with a vinegar-and-pepper sauce, and barbecue misnamed from western North Carolina, in which only the pork shoulder is smoked and the sauce contains elements of tomato as well as pepper and vinegar. I use the misnamed word, because North Carolina’s so-called “Western” barbecue is a product of the central part of the state and not the far western part of the state.

Anyway, I had both, and it’s all good. This does not prevent supporters of one or the other from proclaiming loud and clear that one is superior to the other. It doesn’t stop some of them from getting upset about it either. And that’s only in one state.

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I’ve also barbecued in West Tennessee, specifically in the Memphis area. The pulled pork and ribs from Memphis are exceptional. I had Georgia and Florida BBQ which I really enjoyed. Caroline from the south? I don’t like most South Carolina barbecues, and they boast a mustard-based sauce that I find abominable. But many like it. Of course in Alabama they have a mayonnaise based sauce which is even worse.

Here we now have a number of barbecue restaurants which are quite good. Broad Street, Phil’s Dream Pit, Buddy’s at the Pinnacle and many more. Pratt’s Barn selection of sauces includes “Kernersville” sauce, a “Western” sauce from North Carolina.

A barbecue in Kansas City? I didn’t have any, if you don’t count the KC Masterpiece bottled sauce. I know the people of Kansas City are convinced that their barbecue is the best. Texans will tell you that no one outside of Texas knows how to properly smoke beef brisket. It’s not quite true, but almost.

But the verbal food fights I’ve witnessed don’t stop at the barbecue.

What is the best mayonnaise? Some of my friends think you better say Duke’s, or you’re an idiot. Others will spend time beating a drum for Hellmann’s. Favorite brands of mustard also generate discussion.

Then there are the discussions about the appropriate condiments to serve on certain sandwiches. I know a guy who will go on at length about how bad it is to ruin a Philly cheesesteak with mayonnaise.

The same guy has no problem accepting the mayonnaise-based thousand island dressing on a Reuben. And most of my friends agree that mayonnaise is unacceptable on a hot dog – except, of course, in coleslaw.

You would have thought they were arguing about something important. Like soccer.

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