In recent years, beef brisket has been on the rise in the world of barbecue as new generations of aspiring pitmasters from New York to San Francisco have embraced the Texas method of slow-smoking meat over indirect heat. Brisket's vogue has troubled some traditionalists, who worry about the future of other regional styles as the new stick-burners eclipse older and more laborious methods like Carolina-style whole hog barbecue.
But if Howard Conyers has anything to say about it, whole hog cooking has many more tasty years ahead of it. I profiled Conyers, NASA rocket scientist and barbecue cook, earlier this year in a Daily South piece, and now we're conspiring to bring traditional South Carolina whole hog barbecue down to New Orleans.
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It's called South Carolina Barbeque—Culture, Misperceptions, and Preservation, and Conyers will fire up the burn barrels on Friday evening and cook a hog overnight in the Gumbo Garden along with a few guests (more on that in a moment). The next day, Saturday, November 7, admission to SoFAB will be free all day as the museum celebrates the first anniversary of its “Trail of Smoke & Fire” exhibition, an exploration of barbecue culture throughout the South.
At 11:00 AM, Dr. Conyers will deliver an address on the connection between his two strongest passions: South Carolina barbecue and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). I'll follow that up at 12:30 pm with a talk on the history and future of South Carolina-style whole hog cooking, and then at 2:00 pm at Becker Hall, co-founder of Hogs for the Cause, will join us for a panel discussion on the culinary and cultural relevancy of Southern barbecue. Finally, at 3:30 pm, auctioneer Ruthie Winston will lead a live auction of the hog head left over from the pits, and there will, of course, be plenty of samples of genuine pit-cooked barbecue.
The events on Saturday are free to the public, but for those wanting the insider's view, there are a limited number of tickets for sale for "Pigs in a Blanket: Overnight Barbecue 101." For $250, guests can spend the night in the Gumbo Garden with Howard Conyers (plus two students who win scholarships through an essay contest) and enjoy, in the words of the organizers, "primitive conditions, plenty of snacks and libations, and a lavish, daybreak, cooked-to-order breakfast." And one heck of a unique, smoky experience.
For more information on South Carolina Barbeque—Culture, Misperceptions, and Preservation, visit the SoFAB website or call (504) 267-7490.