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Steve Gilliard, 1964-2007

It is with tremendous sadness that we must convey the news that Steve Gilliard, editor and publisher of The News Blog, passed away June 2, 2007. He was 42.

To those who have come to trust The News Blog and its insightful, brash and unapologetic editorial tone, we have Steve to thank from the bottom of our hearts. Steve helped lead many discussions that mattered to all of us, and he tackled subjects and interest categories where others feared to tread.

Please keep Steve's friends and family in your thoughts and prayers.

Steve meant so much to us.

We will miss him terribly.

photo by lindsay beyerstein


Makin' Cue

Barbecue done in rare form

By David Zucchino, Times Staff Writer
January 31, 2007

Blackwood Station, N.C. — THE moon was high over the loblolly pines when Keith Allen arrived for work at 2 a.m. He built a fire of hickory logs, and a plume of rich blue smoke creased the black night sky.

When the fire had produced glowing red coals, Allen shoveled them into a pit below two dozen hog shoulders on a metal rack. For the next nine hours, he shoveled more coals, stoked the fire, and turned the shoulders as they cooked a ruddy, smoky brown.

Long after first light, he was still at it. With a cleaver in one hand and a knife in the other, he chopped the pork with a rhythmic whump, whump, whump. Then he plunged two gloved hands into the steaming meat to mix in a homemade sauce of vinegar, salt and red pepper.

And that, for purists, is the long, hard, wearying way of making genuine pit-cooked Eastern North Carolina chopped barbecue.

Not many people do it this way anymore. Most of the state's barbecue restaurants have switched to gas or electric cooking, which is cheaper, faster and cleaner. Most now chop North Carolina's signature meal with electric grinders and season it with bottled sauce.

Allen, a tall, silver-haired, second-generation barbecue cook, insists that barbecue that isn't cooked in a pit over hickory coals and chopped and flavored by hand isn't really Carolina barbecue. He devotes most of his waking hours to that ideal.

My cousin lives in Eastern North Carolina. Her sister's husband, who's an Air Force officer, is from Texas. His whole family came to celebrate my cousin's 50th Birthday.
His aunt is eating in her hotel and sees this bottle on the table. She sprinkles it on her biscuit and is surprised to find she has just dumped vinegar sauce on it. She thought it was honey.

Eastern North Carolina barbecue is chopped meat. Just chopped meat. Maybe a sandwich.

I was disappointed. I thought barbecue was brisket, ribs, chicken. Not chopped meat with vinegar.

I'm sorry, but give me some Texas sausage or Kansas City ribs any day.

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