Residential Space A creative outlet during residency, turned ongoing virtual soap box

Posted on Tuesday, May 29th, 2007 at 10:00 am. About Ramblings.

Southern Barbecue Rules!

The other point upon which I would like to elaborate from my trip to South Carolina is that the Carolinas produce the greatest barbecue in the nation. And not in the way the fireworks stand in Gaffney, SC is the “world’s largest fireworks store in the world!” as I outlined in a recent post. Truly, barbecue in this region just cannot be beat. Okay, if there was a competition among various regional barbecue styles for “lowest LDL and highest HDL content,” then Carolina barbecue would go down in flames, but in terms of flavor, texture, and most delicious way to cook an unclean animal – wow!

Carolina pork barbecue is not the tangy tomato stuff that comes from Texas. Its base is comprised of the perfect vinegar-mustard blend, giving it punch while also allowing it to seep into the meat at its finest grain. The closest barbecue to this I have found in Seattle is served at the Bourbon and Barbecue Grill in Ballard, but I have not looked extensively. After my recent vacation, though, I may have to look harder as I’m not sure I can wait until my next trip to SC to enjoy it.

So anyway – starting in junior high school, I always looked forward to the track meets and football games at Batesburg-Leesville High School, because it meant a trip to Shealy’s for barbecue beforehand. Shealy’s is an establishment – a pinnacle of Southern cuisine. Basically, you wait in a line, pay for the buffet, pile food onto your plate, and then sit at an indoor picnic table that feels more like a fellowship hall of a small church than a restaurant. Then, the waitresses keep your glass full of sweet tea so that sugar can rival fat content in the food. As my friend Austin said on our recent trip there, “There’s no atmosphere!” It’s true – people just go there to stuff themselves, and it’s awesome.

The food is exquisite, though! Between the pulled pork barbecue (of course, marinated with vinegar and mustard), cream-style corn, and biscuits with gravy sits the one item very difficult to find outside of the region – hash. A big scoop of it over a pile of rice is unbeatable. I was always told it is made from the “remaining parts of the pig.” As long as I may live in Seattle or any other city, I know I was brought up in the South when I am able to scoop mounds of this stuff onto a plate and savour it.

I was so very proud of Evan. For nearly ten years we have been together, and he had never been to Shealy’s, although I had spoken of the place not infrequently. In bringing him there, I was concerned that its reputation may exceed what he would find enjoyable about the food, but he was quite pleased, even returning to the buffet for seconds (and, of course, enjoying sweet tea with the rest of us). I realized that I had not been to Shealy’s in seven years – the most recent time was in 2000, when I was being fitted for a bridesmaid’s dress by a seamstress in Leesville in order to stand in Austin’s wedding.

Here is a plate of Shealy’s barbecue (mine, in this case):

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Starting at 11:00 and going clockwise: cream-style corn, pulled pork barbecue, roll, hash over rice, “butterbeans,” and green beans.

And Evan, during his first trip to Shealy’s:

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What a trooper!

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