In today’s New York Times food section there’s a recipe for the good life. I know that’s a tacky opening sentence, but I couldn’t resist. John T. Edge reports from Hemingway, South Carolina on a family that makes old fashioned BBQ. As in:
Ten butterflied pig carcasses—taut bellies gone slack, pink flesh gone cordovan—were in the pits when Mr. Lewis reached for the sheet of wire fencing on which one of the pigs had been roasting since 4 the previous afternoon. In lockstep, Mr. Shaw topped that same pig with a second sheet of fencing, reached his gloved fingers into the netting, and grabbed hold.
As the men struggled, the 150 pounds of dead weight torqued the makeshift wire cage. When the carcass landed, skin-side down, on the metal grid of a recently fired pit, skeins of grease trailed down the pig’s flanks, and the smoldering oak and hickory coals beneath hissed and flared.
“I cooked my first one when I was 11,” Mr. Scott said, as he seasoned the pig with lashings of salt, red pepper, black pepper and Accent, a flavor enhancer made with MSG.
Working a long-handled mop, he drenched the pig in a vinegar sauce of a similar peppery composition. “You’ve got to always be on point, when you’re cooking this way,” he said.
The pigs, the butchering, and the wood are all local. The barrels for burning wood down to coals are made in town with old truck axles and industrial piping. And what’s the secret ingredient? “Love,” says Rodney Scott, the head of the operation, in the accompanying audio slideshow. “You put love in and you get love back.” Coming from someone who spends his days manhandling 135-pound butterflied pigs, that’s not as sentimental as it might sound. He cooked his first pig at age eleven. The people come from miles around to get their ribs and pulled pork, and to spend an afternoon chatting. “It’s like a huge family with a small reunion everyday that we’re out here cookin’,” Stark said. “I like to see a full person happy. It makes me happy.”
Good food worked over for hours, family, community, happy people full of BBQ—this is human flourishing. This is the good life.