Thursday, September 11, 2008

Still More NCBBQII! Part 9: Knightdale, a North Carolina Town

Knightdale is one of many rural American towns caught in an identity crisis, and a perfect setting for serious American fiction. Formerly very rural, it's being subsumed into the suburbs of Durham. New money, sprawl, and housing subdivisions are encroaching on working farms. And the farms themselves are no longer staffed by American citizens. Mexican tiendas ("stores" in Spanish) serve as tiny bus terminals for the daily, 2,000-mile bus journeys that migrant workers take back to Mexico. They often pop up in former gas stations or general stores, sometimes right downtown.

So how does BBQ survive in this changing environment? It keeps up with the times. Knightdale Seafood and BBQ, first of all, has more than barbecue on its menu. And, it has moved from its downtown, small-town digs to a brick building out in the sprawlscape on a street called Money Court, next to a gas station and between two strip malls:

It's also open on Sunday, which is how we wound up there after waking up at noon in Chapel Hill and finding it to be damn near 100 degrees outside. We hadn't drank much at the concert the night before, but after eating nothing but smoked pork and vinegar for two days, we felt rather hung over anyway. Nonetheless, we started calling BBQ joints from our hotel to find out who was working on the sabbath. Most restaurants are family-run and closed on Sunday, so one has to be careful.

Knightdale was open, and serious hunger pangs set in on the 20-minute ride over. We found the place easily and were surprised by its Cracker-Barrel-like decor. After observing the huge, church-going family chowing down in their Sunday best, I took a look at the tattered menu...

...and against my better judgment ordered the chicken and pork combo with some type of potatoes and corn. We were back east: vinegar-pepper sauce appeared on the table along with the hushpuppies. The chicken and pork were good, but I could barely eat them. BBQ fatigue had set in after meals at B's (Greenville), Skylight Inn (Ayden), Roland's (Beaufort), Dillard's (Durham), A&M Grill (Mebane) and Lexington Barbecue No. 1 (Lexington).

I just sat there, dipping my hushpuppies in the vinegar sauce, chewing on cornmeal and ignoring my meat.

This would be the final new BBQ joint of the trip. From here, we set out on a sweltering Sunday afternoon land cruise of very rural eastern NC. I will remember some of the images we saw and created for a very long time.

Part X is next!

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Forgot my shoes

I'm in Southeast suburban Indianapolis ("suburban Indianapolis"=rural) with running shoes and hiking shoes but no dress shoes.

Thankfully, I'm within miles (probably less than 2) of a Wal-Mart, a Target, and a Payless.

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Another Reason to Combat Sprawl

A solid Globe article reveals that some common bird species have experienced population declines of 70-99% due to suburban and agricultural sprawl. The author wisely points out that it's not just the suburbs spreading over the earth, but the agricultural infrastructure needed to feed the exploding population and fuel its automobiles.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Apparent Sprawl-Powered Growth

Greetings from Berkeley.

Check out this CNN list of the Census Bureau's fastest-growing counties in the U.S. Four of the top ten are in the DFW area. They're going to need more transit, fast, to stay livable. I have a hunch that places like Dallas and Houston will become economically punishing to their residents over the next few decades.


Saturday, February 03, 2007

Last Week in BBQ, Part II: Uncle Pete's Hickory Ribs, Revere, MA

When Seth gmailed that he had found a few barbecue joints in Revere--an urban "blue collar suburb" and Coney Island/Gravesend analogue that I happen to love--I knew we had to get out there.

Last Saturday, he and I ventured to Mass Hwy 60, Squire Road. On a two-block stretch of this sprawlofare, one can find both The Big Lou (no website) and Uncle Pete's Hickory Ribs. The latter's website announced unexpected entrees of the Thai kind, so we decide to explore this weirdness.

This photoset on Flickr explains the outcome.

Worth checking out are the amazingly well-smoked beef ribs and the surprisingly different, Asianized Buffalo tenders.

Seth and I will be planning a trip to the Big Lou and perhaps a follow-up trip to Uncle Pete's soon.

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