Editor's note: All summer long, the Southern Foodways Alliance will be delving deep in the history, tradition, heroes and plain old deliciousness of barbecue across the United States. Dig in.
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.
A pig surveys the pit on a banner at Hog Heaven across town in Big Spring. On a mural inside Mumphord’s Place in Victoria, a hog raises a fork and a platter of meat victoriously, presumably because he’s not on the platter himself. On the side of La Exclusiva in Pharr, Texas, a jovial, sombrero-clad pig stirs a pot of carnitas, while a batch of barbacoa sits unattended. I guess we are to assume the cow is in the pot.
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.
This Lone Star Dispatch comes from Daniel Vaughn, the brain (and mouth, and tummy) behind Full Custom Gospel BBQ. Follow Daniel on Twitter at @BBQSnob.
Delve into more barbecue goodness from the Southern Foodways Alliance blog.
Previously - Speaking in tongues: a barbecue communion and (Possibly) the oldest barbecue joint in North Carolina
And more on Texas cuisine:
Meat-meister has beef with non-Texas barbecue
Some of Texas' finest tacos, in the back of a 24-hour gas station
Taking a break at County Line Bar-B-Q
Holy mole and nopales: A taste of Austin
Best dang food joint in Texas
Salt and battering at the State Fair of Texas
A fraternal bond in Texas barbecue
Don't mess with a Texas chef: Bryan Caswell stumps for Houston
Farmers feed 1 million to 2 million tons of poultry litter to their cattle annually, according to FDA estimates.
FDA urged to ban feeding of chicken feces to cattle
Food and consumer groups say the practice increases the risk of cattle becoming infected with mad cow disease. A beef industry trade group say a ban isn't needed.
October 31, 2009|Jerry Hirsch
A fight is brewing over the practice of feeding chicken feces and other poultry farm waste to cattle.
A coalition of food and consumer groups that includes Consumers Union and the Center for Science in the Public Interest has asked the Food and Drug Administration to ban the practice. McDonald's Corp., the nation's largest restaurant user of beef, also wants the FDA to prohibit the feeding of so-called poultry litter to cattle.
Members of the coalition are threatening to file a lawsuit or to push for federal legislation establishing such a ban if the FDA doesn't act to do so in the coming months.
This is why, until such legislation is passed - or at least legislation that lets us KNOW what is in our food is passed, I'm buying from my local pasture-raised farmers (whom I check out on more than just their say-so).
Mittens you have my vote : )
It's called a CARTOON.
or, to the politically correct crowd, dimensionally challenged
Reminds me of this Flickr group, that started several years back: http://www.flickr.com/groups/cut-me-wicked-servant/
Good write-up. This isn't just a Texas phenomenon, either...it's everywhere that serves pork BBQ. I've always found it disturbing. Amusing...but disturbing.
Most pointless article ever. I thought this was a news website?
My bad. Didn't notice this was Eatocracy. Still a dumb article though.
Do you make similarly inane comment every time you find the "Living" section in the newspaper?
Apparently you didn't see the "my bad" part.
Maybe they all have something to do with the Piggley-Wiggley pig? Or the other way around? On a side note, anybody notice the cannibal Cinnamon Toast Crunch squares in their television ad?
Never heard Texas republicans described as self-cannibalizing pigs before, but they'd probably be kinda stringy.
I live in Ms. and just moved back from Wisconsin. I've noticed these signs in a lot of states and always thought they were weird. I mean, why are the pigs so happy pictured on BBQ signs? Same thing with Fried Chicken joints. I saw a chicken joint with a sign depicting a happy chicken holding a box of fried chicken! I enjoyed the article and am glad to see that there are others who find this kind of advertising a bit odd.
Luling tx has the best BBQ,in south TX
Beef fragrance and pork also good in s korea but if try chicken leg piece in pakistan its very tasty with beef and mutton recipies in khi BBQ's..
Good BBQ has nothing to do with cookoffs, "worlds greatest" and pig drawings on a wall. And it certainly not about bloggers and tweeters and BBQ snobs. Once you feel like you have to write something to tell the world about BBQ you have lost it. You are a lonely soul with a BBQ to go to, so you try to go buy some. BBQ is about friends, and good times and sharing. I am from Texas and we do have some excellent BBQ – lots of beef for sure, ahd in the Hill Country they make some fine pork sausage that is great smoked – you nibble on it while you drink a Shiner Bock and wait for the brisket to be done. But I would not turn my nose up at some tasty Carolina pulled pork, or some KC ribs. All damn good. So you bring your BBQ pork, and I will bring some BBQ beef, and some chicken too, invite all our friends, crank up some tunes, ice down some beer, and even make iced tea. That is real iced tea without sugar – none of that "sweet tea". Tea with nothing more than ice and a slice of lemon – served up all you can drink – is the only tea. Anyone who says different is crazy – and them's fighting words. :)
summarize you post to each their own
Did the thought ever occur to you that the pig could have been eating beef ribs? Beef ribs are common BBQ fare in Texas.
It's not self-cannibalizing....it's sooey-cide
I actually laughed aloud reading that.
Okay, I probably should not admit this, but I stole it from Granny of The Beverly Hillbillies
Actually the pig is in reference to the BBQ – and how messy it is to eat it.
Thank you for explaining that! Honestly I didn't notice anything odd about it at all.....pigs WILL eat anything!
spend some time with the irregulars of Sierra Leone
and have some of their bushmeat stew
then all of this pork bbq will seem pretty quaint once again
reminds me of animal farm. "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others" and the dinner party at the end of the book. I'm getting hungry for some pork barbecue....
You do relise in texas we eat beef barbecue; and that the pig is a joke about Carolinians? Or do you write all your articles without any research?
The author spends pretty much every waking moment focused on Texas BBQ. I'm sure he's quite well aware of the beef-centric nature of Texas, but truly - folks do serve other meats, too. They do not make you relinquish all swine at the border, I promise.
If by 'research' you mean eating at over 500 barbecue joints in Texas, then I think I have your prerequisite covered. As a Texan you'd also know that most every one of them serves pork alongside the beef. I think I can count on one hand the Texas BBQ joints I've been to that don't offer pork ribs.
I'm also interested in your research about the genesis of swine on Texas BBQ signs being a specific affront to the Carolina culture of pork barbecue. Please share.
having 500 mcribs at different mcdonalds doesn't count as bbq joints.
Uh, right, half-wit. Half the BBQ places in Texas are making a joke about Carolinians with their signage. What wits!
womp womp, your explanation doesn't hold water. At all. Sorry.
Also...you just got served by the author. Didn't see that coming, did you? LOL
Really you need to point that out about beef BBQ and Texas
Look everybody WOMP WOMP has pointed out that that they BBQ beef in Texas, well I guess you learn something new everyday
get a life!!!!!! This was a light hearted article not serious BBQ tell all historical NEWS article
I really hope you have something more to add about Texas bbq in future articles.
And there's plenty more: http://eatocracy.cnn.com/category/bite/travel/texas-travel/
Thank you. You should also consider one focusing strictly on food trailers that serve bbq here. Some of the best in the state. Franklin's in Austin is a good start.
You might dig this! http://eater.com/archives/2012/09/17/aaron-franklin-interview-september-2012.php
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