Celebrate National Barbecue Month Saturday on The American Sound

Music for the backyard barbecue on The American Sound, 6 pm Saturday, on Classical 101.(Photo: John Liu (Creative Commons/Flickr))
Music for the backyard barbecue on The American Sound, 6 pm Saturday, on Classical 101.(Photo: John Liu (Creative Commons/Flickr))

In any conversation about barbecue, one question hits the bottom line – red sauce, or vinegar?

Sounds like a simple question, doesn’t it? But it is not. in fact, it is a question that has been known to strain marriages, divide households and may even have caused the American Civil War. Well, not really. I added that last point for dramatic effect.

Maybe I lived a barbecue-deprived youth, but when I was growing up in Ohio, I experienced only barbecue with red sauce. You know, thick, tangy, a bit spicy. It adheres like a glaze to your pulled pork or shredded brisket. And since it isn’t dripping wet, it doesn’t get the sandwich bun soggy.

When I went to graduate school in North Carolina and ordered my first barbecue pork sandwich down there, I was unprepared for what arrived at the table: a bun, a pile of shredded meat and a squeeze ketchup bottle containing a clear liquid that looked for the life of me like water from a fish bowl.

“What’s the stuff in the bottle?” I asked my dining companion. “The sauce,” he said.

I played along, piling the bun with meat and dousing the whole schmear with the stuff in the ketchup bottle. I took a bite. It was tasty, and I could tell it had potential. But where were the other ingredients? Where was the Worcester sauce? The brown sugar? The tomato paste that would give it that all-important glaze-like texture? And most importantly, why would I want to eat this sandwich since the “sauce” had now turned the bun into bread pudding?

Turns out I had experienced my first Carolina barbecue, and in the process I discovered that, apparently, I’m a red sauce kind of woman. My dining companion, however, was used to the vinegar-based sauce and didn’t see what my problem was. It became something of a bone of contention. I’ll spare you the details of our conversations on the subject, but suffice it to say that, although my friend and I went together to plenty of other restaurants, we never again dined together at a barbecue joint.

May is National Barbecue Month and I’m prepared to put all the sauce drama aside and focus on the reality that May invites grilling weather, outdoor get-togethers and a whole bunch of good times and good eats. Classical 101 always has a great soundtrack for you, but Saturday at 6 pm on The American Sound, I’ll bring you some chamber music inspired inspired by “The BBQ.”

It’s fun music with an American accent. And if you’re like me, it’ll pair well with your red sauce.

Hope you can join me Saturday evening at 6 for The American Sound!