Thursday, October 22, 2009
If you're learning your way around A) Charlotte; B) Carolina barbecue; or C) Southern political history, here's why you need to go: First, barbecue in this part of the world isn't a summer activity. Hogs were traditionally killed in the fall, after the first frost. Since that came around the time political campaigns were entering the final stretch before early November elections, politicians started either putting on barbecues to draw people, or going to barbecues because that's where the people were. People with bellies full of barbecue were usually content to sit still and listen.
Mallard Creek Presbyterian Church likes to emphasize that the barbecue isn't political -- it's a church fundraiser. But it draws politicians like kids to lemonade, so the two have become linked. You can skip "the gauntlet" -- the line of hopeful candidates handing out stickers and brochures - but I never do. That's part of the fun. I always wear long sleeves so I can get most number of stickers down my arm.
As for the food, the Mallard Creek folks slow-cook a massive amount of darn good chopped 'cue, and they ladle out an ocean of their Brunswick stew, which is different from any Brunswick stew I've ever had but is definitively their own concoction. When you get to a trestle table, you'll see open loaves of white bread. Use it to make a sandwich, or as a "pusher" to nudge meat on to your tiny plastic fork. Sometimes I use a slice to pinch up bites of barbecue, sort of the Southern answer to Ethiopian injera bread.
But the best part, fork down, is the people watching. I judge how many years I've been in Charlotte by how many old friends and professional acquaintances I run into. It's one of those see-and-be-seen events that's almost required for anyone in business.
It goes on all day today and until about 7 p.m. tonight. A lot of people drive through on the way home to pick up dinner. If you're going, take I-85 to West Mallard Creek Church Road, turn right on Mallard Creek Road and get in the long line of cars.
Posted by Kathleen Purvis at 8:31 AM