Barbecue: America's National Folk Food

July 12, 2015
beef ribs
beef ribs

Image: Southern Foodways Alliance via: flickr

Interstate Beef Ribs 

Interstate Bar-B-Que Memphis, TN

Photo by Rien T. Fertel for the SFA

John T. Edge is the Director of the Southern Foodways Alliance and a James Beard Award-winning writer. He says we're living in a Golden Age of barbecue and he talks about barbecue's troubled racial history.



"Rib tickling"?


(First, I'M not certain it was in this segment or in segment 3 that this occurred )The interviewer uses the term "African American" (which I fully endorse as respectful and appropriate), but then refers to the interviewee as a "white guy". While this may be accurate, I was struck by how disrespectful it sounded in this context and wondered if this is an intentional choice of words or have we fallen to disrespect the Euro-American descendants out of cultural collective guilt? The term "white man" might have even conveyed a little more respect.

I very much enjoyed the author's discussion of the history of barbeque, and I thought he provided a thorough and very respectful dissertation on the very difficult history that current barbeque is built upon. He showed tremendous respect for those African-American pitmasters who were craftsman of their trade and who grew to be "Masters". The interviewer, on the other hand, was continually attempting to "race bait" him into the typical "white guilt" discussion, and to his credit the author did not bite. He continued his very interesting, and again respectful, factual, and facinating discussion. That did not prevent the interviewer from continuing her race-baiting style. While I completely enjoyed the interview, she made me cringe.