With love from Appalachia

17 May 2010

Dear Asheville, NC, Chamber of Commerce,

I am writing to you today because I believe you have your priorities mixed up. I recently spent time in your fair town, and while I have plenty of fine things to say about your hippie sensibilities, the rugged beauty of your mountains, and your love for locally-sourced food and beer, I feel I must remind you that you are a proud city of the South, and not a facsimile of Burlington, Vermont.

Why do I bring this up? How could I question the unmissable southern-pride of any North Carolinian? Here, though, it’s not unmissable, on the contrary it’s quite missable. You do pronounce “Appalachian” with a long third a, not a short one. I’ll give you that.

I’ll cut to the chase. A major mainstay of Southern culture, the barbecue pit, takes many forms. In tiny, backwater towns, the best barbeque comes from nondescript shacks, gas stations, backyards. In large centers of commerce, like Asheville, the pit with the best ‘que is a meeting place, a point where Hospitality is exercised, a cultural agora in any Southern city.

And you hide 12 Bones Smokehouse all the way out in the the”River Arts District”, amid vacant buildings and hipster enclaves.

I know, I know. They chose the location and there’s nothing you can do about it, but the pedestrian promenades by Page St have no 12 Bones outposts, the maps of downtown on every corner do not feature arrows saying “This way for ribs that will blow your mind.”

Perhaps 12 Bones doesn’t need your help; the parking lot full, the line was out the door. This gave my friend and me plenty of time to peruse the menu, decide what combo gave us the highest bang:buck ratio, choose sides and the sauces for our ribs, and select a West NC beer.

We were halfway through our Green Man IPA and Foothills Porter when our food made it outside to our picnic table. The wedge salad, 1/4 head of lettuce with homemade ranch (it’s a southern thang, yanks), came with a few ribs smothered in the sweet/smoky/hot blueberry chipotle sauce. The charred 1/2 chicken was crispy and tender all at once and lay on top of a bed of baked beans and collard greens. Six more ribs came smothered half in a sticky sweet peach BBQ sauce and half in a brown sugar dry rub that let the skill of the pit master shine through. A cucumber salad cut the heat and the smoked potato salad tasted exactly how one might expect, delicious.

And another thing. I love Southern food, really and truely. However, the one thing I think we do better in the North is cornbread. Choosing between fluffy and sweet and dense and bland was never a choice for me. But hot damn if they didn’t give us the best cornbread I have ever tried. Slap-yo-Mama good.

I ought to reiterate my most recent assertion: 12 doesn’t need your help. Keep it a secret, hidden away. Glory knows, I wouldn’t have found it without the help of a barman in Boone. Perhaps the thing to do, Chamber of Commerce, is exercise restraint, maybe even play it down a little. But if another Yankee comes down to Asheville saying, “Why this isn’t anything but another Burlington,” you tell them about 12 Bones. That’ll shut ’em up.

With love from Appalachia,
Joe

P.S.
12 Bones Smokehouse
5 Riverside Drive
Asheville, NC
828.253.4499


I know, I know. They chose the location and there’s nothing you can do about it, but the pedestrian promenades by Page St have no 12 Bones outposts, the maps of downtown on every corner do not feature arrows saying “This way for ribs that will blow your mind.”

Perhaps 12 Bones doesn’t need your help; the parking lot full, the line was out the door. This gave my friend and me plenty of time to peruse the menu, decide what combo gave us the highest bang:buck ratio, choose sides and the sauces for our ribs, and select a West NC beer.

We were halfway through our Green Man IPA and Foothills Porter when our food made it outside to our picnic table. The wedge salad, 1/4 head of lettuce with homemade ranch (it’s a southern thang, yanks), came with a few ribs smothered in the sweet/smoky/hot blueberry chipotle sauce. The charred 1/2 chicken was crispy and tender all at once and lay on top of a bed of baked beans and collard greens. Six more ribs came smothered half in a sticky sweet peach BBQ sauce and half in a brown sugar dry rub that let the skill of the pit master shine through. A cucumber salad cut the heat and the smoked potato salad tasted exactly how one might expect, delicious.

And another thing. I love Southern food, really and truely. However, the one thing I think we do better in the North is cornbread. Choosing between fluffy and sweet and dense and bland was never a choice for me. But hot damn if they didn’t give us the best cornbread I have ever tried. Slap-yo-Mama good.

I ought to reiterate my most recent assertion: 12 doesn’t need your help. Keep it a secret, hidden away. Glory knows, I wouldn’t have found it without the help of a barman in Boone. Perhaps the thing to do, Chamber of Commerce, is exercise restraint, maybe even play it down a little. But if another Yankee comes down to Asheville saying, “Why this isn’t anything but another Burlington,” you tell them about 12 Bones. That’ll shut ’em up.

With love from Appalachia,
Joe

P.S.
12 Bones Smokehouse
5 Riverside Drive
Asheville, NC
828.253.4499

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2 Responses to “With love from Appalachia”

  1. Roger said

    Joe…this is superb idea. Makes me salivate just reading the entries. And, headlining it with “Boeff, LA” is a brilliant piece. Can’t wait to read more. I know of no one with such a breadth of knowledge about food around the world than you. Keep truckin’! Love ya, Dad

  2. […] “We sell one thing and it’s cheap.” $5.70 for a plate at the Smokey Pig, where 12 Bones gave us plenty of variety for $12-$15 an […]

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