Uniting through North Carolina Barbecue
Chapter four examines how barbecue is a Southern cultural institution that sends rhetorical messages about Southern history, gender, race, class, ritual, and fellowship. Barbecue is a type of cultural synecdoche that continues to bring different types of people together, telling stories that simultaneously shape and express contemporary Southern identity. If Southern food helps shape identity, barbecue provides a perfect example of this process because its rhetoric and ritual incites profound identification with regional styles. Tussling about which barbecue is best engages identity forming behavior that serves a rhetorical purpose in gradually knitting groups of people together over their shared love of a particular food tradition. Barbecue conveys identificatory messages of authenticity, masculinity, and rurality, stretching casuistically to still be descriptive of the South’s character. The chapter explores how (and whether) perceptions of traditional Southern foods like barbecue stretch to broaden and deepen the narrative about Southern food.
Keywords: Barbecue, Identification, Authenticity, Masculinity, Rurality