Cubans may live surrounded by water but the food that incites the most passion and culinary debate does not swim or slither. That honor is reserved for puerco asado, pork cooked over coals in the traditional style of the Cuban countryside.
As with many Cubans, Anselmo “Don” Bello swears on his honor that he cooks the best puerco asado on the entire island.
But unlike most of those other would-be top chefs, Bello’s phone rings off the hook each day with people asking him, pleading with him for one of his whole cooked pigs.
“Most people don’t know what a real Creole meal is,” Bello said, referring to the term for the Caribbean’s jumble of European and New World cultures. “The taste of the seasoning, the oregano, the onion, garlic and bitter orange. That’s been lost but we are rescuing it.”
Don Bello is leading his crusade to save Cuba’s culinary traditions in San Antonio del Rio Blanco, a small, country town, an hour inside of Havana.
By now you’ve probably spent the summer putting perfect grill marks on skirt steaks and even smoked an entire pork shoulder.
Perhaps you have even made your own barbecue sauce and realized it's better than anything you could buy in a jar. Or maybe they know you by name when you walk into your local grill supply store and you count the days until the weekend when you can get up before dawn to start cooking barbecue that wont be ready until sundown.
But deep down you know that until you cook a whole pig you just have been playing it safe.
Patrick Oppmann is a CNN All Platform Journalist and barbecue enthusiast.
Floods or no floods, in Memphis there was going to be a barbecue.
The Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, a yearly celebration off all things BBQ, is usually held along the city’s scenic and winding riverfront.
The festival draws over 200 top practitioners of the art of barbecue and thousands of their devoted fans.
But there was one large added logistical complication this year: the rising Mississippi River dumped feet of water on the park where the festival has been held for over 30 years.
Unless pitmasters were going to don scuba suits, a new location needed to be found and quickly.