Maybe It Was Memphis… MEMPHIS STYLE BARBECUE

I know. I had you at BARBECUE.

MEMPHIS STYLE BARBECUE

Of course there is also Texas barbecue, Carolina barbecue, Kansas City barbecue, California barbecue (hot dogs, over a fire, on the beach, right?), Hawaiian barbecue, KOREAN barbecue…

Recently, Pork Be Inspired gave away five $5000 prizes to folks who entered their Pork Passion Pursuit contest. One prize was given to one winning entrant in five different categories: The Traveler, The Foodie, The Lifestyler, The Tailgater, and The Parent (or Host).

As a “lifestyler” myself, I was given the opportunity to talk with Pork Be Inspired’s Lifstyler Passion Pursuit winner, Heather McDonough of Food History Crossroads!

Heather does something very fun and interesting with her blog… she brings history and food TOGETHER. For her Passion Pursuit, Heather brought this passion of her own and put together a barbecue tour… five days and four nights in Memphis.

Maybe it was Memphis…

I ask Heather what inspired her love of pork. She told me that being a girl from the South (Virginia), pork is in everything. Smithfield Hams are THE HAMS where she comes from. Then she said something about ham biscuits and I was all, “WHAT ARE HAM BISCUITS?!” And then she told me and WHAT HAVE I BEEN MISSING ALL MY LIFE? HAM INSIDE BISCUITS? WHAT IS THIS FORBIDDEN MAGIC?!

When Heather was thinking about what to write for her contest entry, she said the song “Walking in Memphis” came to mind as she thought about what to write for her entry… and it because of her vision and this contest it came all to be for Heather and her husband recently.

It was really cool to listen to Heather share the history of Memphis barbecue… From as early as the 1500’s when Hernando de Soto came through and found Native Americans smoking meat over coals, to later in history and trading spices down the Mississippi to the port… and how trade influenced what has now become known as the Memphis barbecue style.

Memphis barbecue ribs

Photo provided by, Heather!

Barbecue styles vary regionally in large part due to what ingredients we available at the time. Now, though, as we live in an age of free and over-night shipping, it is much easier to recreate the flavors of almost any food in the world. I love that Heather’s interest is in the history of food because in sharing those stories it brings more meaning and understanding of the culture where these were first created.

Going back to where Heather is from, Virginia… one of the original thirteen states, food preservation was an critical task for the early colonists. Yadda, yadda, yadda, … CURED HAM. Virginia ham… Smithfield ham.

*yadda, yadda, yadda: select historical detail omitted for sake of time.

In an age when we hardly know what fruits are in season anymore because we can get almost anything anytime, food history is fascinating.

But Heather. And Memphis. AND BARBECUE.

They hit a number of restaurants. Heather said she did some research before she went but then saved room to ask locals when they arrived. Nothing quite like recommendations from the locals! If you happen to be headed to Memphis, here are the paces Heather and her hubby enjoyed:

Back to local recommendations, I asked Heather what their favorite joint was and she said it was Blues City Cafe. It was recommended by one of the folks at the hotel they stayed. It was the first place they ate at… and as it turns out, it was also the last.

I asked Heather what she hoped to take away from the experience. She said she thought it would be about the history “… about the farmers. They are the ones who worked the Delta… they built Memphis.” And that was a big piece of the experience, but she was surprised how much she learned about the blues and it’s influence.  From the Blues Highway to memphis Minnie to Robert Johnson – the man who sold his soul to the Devil himself. Or did he?

It’s one thing to roll up one’s sleeves and dive into a rack of good-ol baby backs. It’s another to dive in and connect with your heart. And that’s what Heather’s Passion Pursuit did. Her adventure not only gave her a few days’ escape with her husband (two kiddos with Grandma at home!), but it was a trip not just to taste the flavors of Memphis, but to where they were able to experience the heart of Memphis… the work, the struggle… the Blues.

After talking to Heather about her Pork Be Inspired Passion Pursuit experience, I am inspired! I would LOVE to take my family on a road trip.. down the Blues Highway. We love us some blues AND barbecue around here. I can hardly think about … the idea the thought is so exciting to me!

A big thanks to Heather for taking the time to share her about her Passion Pursuit. She is writing about it in much greater detail on her blog [here]. I encourage you to stop by and read more about her delicious experience and fascinating discoveries! And swing by the Pork Be Inspired Facebook page to keep up on the latest news in pork (145 is the new 160!) and they are always sharing yummy recipes!

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2 Responses to “Maybe It Was Memphis… MEMPHIS STYLE BARBECUE”

  1. Amanda says:

    Love it. The other night we were trying to figure out what to do for dinner. We had a pork loin in a marinade and Sean said, “I’ll just throw it on the grill.” I nodded and said that we could just keep it for lunch the next day.

    Nope.

    We. Inhaled. It.

    Yum!

  2. Windy says:

    *sigh*

    I am sure they thoroughly enjoyed their Memphis BBQ, but unfortunately they didn’t even make it to any of the really good stuff Memphis has to offer.

    If you really want GOOD bbq in Memphis, stay off Beale St. and hit

    Cozy Corner
    Payne’s
    A&R
    BBQ shop

    and when you need a break from the pig, go to Gus’s for fried chicken.

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