July 8th, 2013
05:00 PM ET
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Editor's note: The Southern Foodways Alliance delves deep in the history, tradition, heroes and plain old deliciousness of barbecue across the United States. SFA oral historian Amy Cameron Evans wrote this remembrance of pitmaster Ralph Parker.

It saddens us to share news that the barbecue community has lost another legend. Ralph Parker, the last surviving original founder of Parker’s Barbecue, passed away on July 4 at the age of 89.
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Barbecue loses a legend
May 8th, 2013
10:00 AM ET
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Editor's note: The Southern Foodways Alliance delves deep in the history, tradition, heroes and plain old deliciousness of barbecue across the United States. SFA filmmaker Joe York wrote this remembrance of pitmaster Ricky Parker after attending Parker's funeral on Wednesday, May 1, in Lexington, Tennessee.

They buried Ricky Parker yesterday. A few miles down the road from the cinder block pits where he cooked whole hogs for more than half his life, from the sliding glass window where he sold sandwiches, from the creosote-stained door where he hung the “SOLD OUT” sign every afternoon to let the latecomers know not to bother, they gathered to say they were sorry, to say goodbye, to say that they didn’t know what to say.

They dressed him as he dressed himself. In blue Dickies, a tan work shirt with a pack of Swisher Sweets peeking from the breast pocket, and his burgundy and brown ball cap resting on the ledge of coffin, he went to his reward. The only thing missing was his greasy apron. I imagine it hangs on a nail somewhere back by the pits where he left it.
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Filed under: Barbecue • Barbecue Digest • Bite • Content Partner • Favorites • Meat • Rituals • Southern Foodways Alliance


October 23rd, 2012
02:16 PM ET
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Editor's note: The Southern Foodways Alliance delves deep in the history, tradition, heroes and plain old deliciousness of barbecue across the United States. We've been sharing dispatches live from their 15th annual Symposium "Barbecue: An Exploration of Pitmaster, Places, Smoke, and Sauce" in Oxford, Mississippi, over the past few days. Dig in.

North Carolina writer Randall Kenan delivers the opening keynote address at the 2012 SFA symposium, a literary meditation on the importance of the hog in Southern culture. Kenan is introduced by Ted Ownby of the University of Mississippi. It's saucy.

Previously - Alton Brown on the science of cooking whole hogs



Mutton, pork butts and burgoo - an intro to Kentucky barbecue
October 17th, 2012
05:30 PM ET
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Editor's note: The Southern Foodways Alliance delves deep in the history, tradition, heroes and plain old deliciousness of barbecue across the United States. We'll be sharing dispatches from their 15th annual Symposium "Barbecue: An Exploration of Pitmaster, Places, Smoke, and Sauce" over the nest few days. Dig in.

Kentuckians have barbecued on a grand scale since our land became a state in 1792, and that tradition continues today with such massive events as the annual political picnic at Fancy Farm (where in 2011 the team at St. Jerome Catholic Church cooked 19,000 pounds of pork and mutton), and at Owensboro’ s International Bar-B-Q Festival, a charity event where cooks stir 75-gallon cauldrons of burgoo and tend open pits groaning with mutton quarters and whole chickens.
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The barbecuing pirates of Tortuga
October 15th, 2012
03:15 PM ET
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Editor's note: The Southern Foodways Alliance delves deep in the history, tradition, heroes and plain old deliciousness of barbecue across the United States. Dig in.

Did pirates barbecue? Arrrrgh, of course they did, though the barbecuing may actually have come before the buccaneering.

Around 1630, the small island of Tortuga off the northwestern coast of Hispaniola (today, the Dominican Republic and Haiti) became a haven for a motley lot of vagabonds and refugees - deserters, escaped slaves, and shipwrecked sailors of all nationalities. They would sneak over to Hispaniola to hunt the wild cattle and pigs that roamed the sparsely populated coast, taking whatever they bagged back to Tortuga to avoid the local authorities.

These hunters discovered they could sell dried meat, hides, and lard to planters and ship captains, and soon they became known as “boucaniers.” The term derived from the Tupi word boucan, meaning a grate on which meat was slowly cured over a small fire. The hunters of Tortuga used such grates to dry their meat for sale and to cook feasts for themselves.
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