If it ain’t pig, it ain’t BBQ

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 82
Occupation: Retired Professor of Pharmaceuticals
Residence: Chapel Hill, NC
Date of Performance/Collection: 5/2/21
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Background: The informant was born and raised in Western North Carolina. He has lived in North Carolina his whole life. The following phrase expresses a sentiment of North Carolinians surrounding a classic Southern dish: barbecue.

“If it ain’t pig, it ain’t BBQ”

I was told that for most people in North Carolina, barbecue is specifically pulled pork. It’s a very regional thing whereas other parts of the country also have barbecue, theirs is anything that’s cooked on a barbeque–could be tri tip, could be chicken, could be pulled pork, could be sausage. North Carolina also has a vinegar based barbeque sauce, where other places use mustard or ketchup based sauces.

Context of the performance: This was explained to me over FaceTime.

Thoughts: This short, fixed phrase states what is considered a truth among North Carolinians. It reveals a regional difference in a big part of the Southern culture–which is food. The phrasing suggests a binary view of barbecue that distinguishes region, and in North Carolina, you wouldn’t call something barbecue if it isn’t a form of pork, usually pulled pork. Barbecue seems to be a small way of forming an identity in North Carolina.