BBQ – the sides matter too


Summer is starting to wind down and I am attending my last BBQ festival. It got me thinking about the different types of festivals and the one thing they all have in common. The sides!

When most people think of BBQ they think Texas Brisket, Memphis Dry ribs, pulled pork in South Carolina with mustard based sauces, and Kansas City beef and pork with a sweet tomato based sauce. The one thing I always think of when I hear BBQ is coleslaw. Hands down it iswhat every region serves with its BBQ. Some serve it as a side, some serve it as a topping.Either way,you can always count on the establishment having coleslaw.

I listen to people tell me how they marinate, rub and basically molesta particular cut of meat to make sure that their BBQ is the best. I listen to how they spend days preparing it so it is tender enough andjuicy enough to make you want more; they usually do a pretty good job. I also see those same persons wreck their BBQ with the worst coleslaw.

Currently, I am in Memphis, home of the pulled pork sandwich.Here theyput the coleslaw on top. Now I love a great pulled pork sandwich, but have yet to find a good pulled pork sandwich here. Not because the pork isn’t good, but because they ruin it by putting bland coleslaw on top.

I have to ask, why spend two days preparing this amazing meat, just to bring it down with store bought, boring coleslaw? I wish that these same places put the effort into the sides. For consumers this is absurd. You would not go eat at your favorite restaurant and order a piece of fish or meat that was cooked perfectly just to haveit come out with nasty vegetables and un-eatable starch.

Why do we allow it with BBQ? I think that people need to start letting their favorite BBQ place know that this is unacceptable. I now judge a place not just by the BBQ, but by the sides they send out with the dish. Too often the hype is better than the food. At least in California, everything they serve with the BBQ tastes great, not just the meat.

I like my coleslaw with a little vinegar bite, I use key lime juice, apple cider vinegar and depending on my mood, add either crushed pineapple or mango. Ithink the acidity and sweetness go really well with the smokiness of the pork and spicy sauce.

I never thought I would long for BBQ from California while being in a city like Memphis, one of the Meccas for pulled pork and supposedly great BBQ. If this is the quality of BBQ in the south, then I would rather not eat it. I think that southern California should replace Memphis when we think of BBQ in the United States.