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What Alabama Has Taught Me About Barbecue

Barbecue. Barbeque. BBQ. Bar-B-Q. Bar-B-Que. We may not be able to agree on its spelling, but really, who doesn't love a good pulled pork sandwich? I've always considered myself a big barbecue fan, but since moving to Alabama, I've learned that there's a lot more to this Southern cooking style than this Kentucky girl even realized. 

Here's what has surprised me most so far:

1. The existence of "white barbecue sauce." I've lived my entire life in the geographic south, but never, had I ever, heard of "white" barbecue sauce until moving to Birmingham. If you've never heard of it either, don't worry; we're not alone. White barbecue sauce is a Northern Alabama specialty. It's mayonnaise-based and usually served with chicken. The sauce is tangy and creamy -- and definitely worth a try.

Here's a recipe for the standard White Barbecue Sauce, and to work it into your next meal, try:


2. Pulled pork isn't just for sandwiches. Last weekend, a friend visited me in Birmingham, and I decided to take her to Jim 'N Nick's Bar-B-Q for a taste of one of the area's favorite barbecue restaurants. Never having eaten slow-smoked pork on top of a salad before, I decided to try it by ordering the Pig in the Garden Salad. The verdict: delicious. Who would have thought?

3. Barbecue is serious business in Birmingham. As soon as I moved here, it didn't take long to discover that barbecue is practically its own food group in this town. Ask someone for a lunch or dinner recommendation, and half of their suggestions will be barbecue joints. Just look around, and you'll find barbecue establishments everywhere. Southernbbqtrail.com says that over 500 barbecue restaurants have opened in Birmingham since 1920, and maxshores.com claims that there are more barbecue restaurants per capita in Birmingham, AL than in most other cities. Wow. Pretty impressive, B'ham.

If you're already a barbecue lover, then good for you. Keep it up. If you're not, or if you're looking to expand your collection of barbecue knowledge and experience, then plan a little trip to Alabama. This state certainly has plenty to teach you about barbecue, barbeque, BBQ, Bar-B-Q, and Bar-B-Que.