I stopped by recently and ordered a chopped barbecue pork sandwich with slaw. It was a big sandwich and was very moist and tasty without sauce and adding his house sauce made it nice and tangy. Red serves three types of sauces: House, tomato based, and North Carolina style. Now, don't be too hard on Red for his North Carolina style sauce and his neglect of labeling his house sauce as Virginia style, which it is in every respect. Virginians aren't used to bragging about their barbecue. We can thank TV, newspapers, and magazines for that.
As I discussed barbecue and his background, Red unknowingly revealed several things about his barbecue that are genuinely Virginian. He cooks his pork butts without any seasoning on them at all. That's a traditional Virginia method. He also has a spiced and tangy house sauce. That's traditional Virginia style as well. As I talked to him about the influences on his barbecue recipes and told him how that what he is doing is very much in the Virginia tradition, a little smile came over his face. I could almost see his Virginia barbecue pit master chin rise up as he realized that he didn't have to hide behind the North Carolina label.
Red's story isn't unique. There are places all over the state serving really good barbecue that is genuinely Virginian but the marketing of the barbecue seems to always reference North Carolina. But, those marketing gimmicks are not accurate at all. You should have seen the smiles when I explained to him and his wife how that the traditional eastern North Carolina "sauce" is actually of Virginian origin. They had no idea and were delighted to learn of it.
That's the fulfillment of my mission. I am on a crusade to make sure that Virginia barbecue cooks know the history of their craft and aren't ashamed to proudly proclaim that their barbecue is Virginia barbecue.
Red and I parted as friends after that visit and he agreed to be interviewed for my upcoming book. That's what it's all about.