Rick Bragg

The New York Times

There have been uncounted stories and even a few books written about just how seriously North Carolinians take there barbecue, but few parts of the state have a barbecue history that runs as rich as that of the area east of Raleigh and west of the low, coastal country, in this flat land of tumble-down tobacco sheds, green fields and mill towns.Gene Price, the editor emeritus of the Goldsboro (N.C.) News, says political candidates file past the local barbecue to be anointed, and politicians’ waistlines, as much as the polls, show who is campaigning the hardest. It may be impossible, he believes, for a skinny man to be elected here…

There is Scott’s, also in Goldsboro, which dates to the 1920’s, when a black man named Adam Scott started selling barbecue to white people from his back door…The door was the only acceptable place for whites to pick up there barbecue from this black minister, who was famous across North Carolina. No one knew why, but it just seemed to taste better. As the years went by, they went from picking it up at the back door to picking it up at the front door, then eating it in his yard, then eating it on his porch. Eventually, he fenced in the porch and called it a restaurant.

In one way, the taste of Mr. Scott’s barbecue overrode prejudice, but it brought to light another. For black customers in those early years, it was take-out only. For whites, to dine at a black-owned restaurant was one thing. To dine with blacks was still taboo. After Adam Scott’s son, A. Martel Scott took over in the 1940’s, the restaurant had two dining rooms, one for whites and one for blacks. It changed in the 1960’s, under the pressure of the Federal courts.

“Most of his business came from whites,” said Ann Scott, the widow of A. Martel Scott, who died in 1992. “They supported him. And he was criticized for it.” Thirty years have cooled old resentments. “I’ve eaten black pigs and white pigs, and Poland Chinas, which are white and black.” said Mr. Price, the newspaper editor. “There is no damn difference. Barbecue is part of our culture. It really has more political significance here than racial. Here in Wayne County, for any person to run for office successfully, the first have to go out and be anointed.” At the barbecue.

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