A strange phenomenon pervades the signs of barbecue joints across the state of Texas: pigs acting like people. In my memory, nary a bovine graces a barbecue sign that’s not in the cooked or soon-to-be smoked form.
At Big John’s Feed Lot Bar-B-Q in Big Spring, Texas, a painting on the window shows the pitmaster wielding a cleaver in one hand while dragging a dazed steer with the other. This is how the poor cattle are portrayed, while the overt anthropomorphism is reserved for swine - in this, the land of beef barbecue.
Photo courtesy Daniel Vaughn
Elsewhere, you can find a hog on a motorcycle in Leakey, another with fork and knife at the ready and a napkin around its neck in Marshall, and even a cigar-smoking pig in a toque in Cedar Hill.
After so much repetition of the theme, it’s easy to get used to the oddity. But when I darkened the door of Johnny’s Barbecue in Midland, I recoiled. A scene up on the wall went a step too far. It was a seated pig clad in Western wear, happily biting into a rack of ribs.
A few days later, yet another blatantly cannibalistic pig was spotted in San Angelo, where a muscular swine snacked on a saucy rib on the sign above Bubba’s Smokehouse. Those ribs turned out to be disappointing - otherwise, I would have thought the pig was on to something.
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