Food & Drink

Cookbook review | Hit the road with ‘Barbecue Lover’s: The Carolinas’

“Barbecue Lover’s The Carolinas” by Robert F. Moss.
“Barbecue Lover’s The Carolinas” by Robert F. Moss. Courtesy image

“Barbecue Lover’s The Carolinas” is a book to pack in your suitcase rather than keep on the kitchen bookshelf.

While there are a few included recipes, this is really an insider’s guide and history of that quintessential southern pork meal—barbecue!

Greenville, S.C., native Robert F. Moss, a graduate of Furman University with a Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina, is a food and beverage writer who lives in Charleston. He is the senior restaurant reviewer for the Charleston City Paper and has dozens of other publications to his credit. He has also published a collection of essays on dining in the modern South called “Going Lardcore, Adventures in Southern Dining.”

Moss has augmented his native-born expertise in Southern cuisine with a series of road trips to thoroughly research his topic. Tasty research indeed!

The layout of the book is just right for use as a travel guide and the portions related to your own kitchen experimentations. There are thorough discussions of types of wood, types of sauce and more. Travel takes up most of the front; the back part of the book deals with helping readers create porcine heaven in their own kitchens.

I love that this is not just a compilation of recipes and restaurant reviews. Moss offers notes on markets and provides menus and anecdotes from pitmasters alike. He opens with a brief history of the art of pig cookery in the Carolinas, including giving proper credit to African and Caribbean influences.

Chapters discuss the differences between whole hog barbecue and those who prefer just the shoulder or butt. He looks at the vinegar sauce of Eastern North Carolina and the light red of the Piedmont. In addition, he explores the yellow mustard tradition of the midlands and low country and the “free-spirited” tradition of the Upstate and the mountains.

In case you want to dig a pit in your own backyard, Moss gives detailed instructions on how to do so.

Of the restaurants he reviews, Moss says, “I wouldn’t go so far as to say with certainty that the restaurants in this guide are the very best in the Carolinas. What I will say is that they represent the full sweep of Carolina barbecue traditions and that they are among the very best that the two states have to offer.”

I am sure I gained weight while making my way through the book. I love the calendar of barbecue festivals. My husband and I now stand ready to give the true proof to this book — take Moss’s implied challenge and hit the road to try some of these places for ourselves.

At a glance

Title | “Barbecue Lover’s The Carolinas: Restaurants, Markets, Recipes and Traditions”

Author | Robert F. Moss

Publisher | Globe Pequot Press

Length | 215 pages

Cost | $21.95