Occupation: Spanish teacher
Residence: Memphis, TN
Date of Performance/Collection: April 25, 2015
Primary Language: English
The festival: “Teams of cooks enter the huge contest every May in Memphis. They have a big cook-off that’s judged to see who has the best ribs or pulled pork. Memphis is the slow cooked barbecue capital of the world. It’s a very exciting time in our city. You have to know someone in order to enter the tents and eat the food.”
The informant is my mom, who has lived in Memphis since college. Barbecue Fest is huge in Memphis, and anyone who cooks enters the contest. It is usually the second weekend in May; the festival is part of the bigger Memphis in May celebration that focuses on a different country every year to raise international cultural awareness. You have to know someone in the contest to get into the fest, but since so many people from all across the city enter, a lot of guests end up being let in. Memphians are proud of their good barbecue, and will shut down anyone who says that another city or state is known for the best barbecue in the world. They’ll even avoid eating barbecue outside of Memphis. The Barbecue Fest is a way for Memphians to celebrate themselves and their food and enjoy each other’s company. It’s also just a place to relax after a hard week at work and meet other cooks and try their food.