Q fix: sauce and religion
Those who want to see firsthand evidence of the American love for alternately-spelled words have to look no further than the myriad Southern spellings of the word "barbecue," or the vast creativity that goes into Southern church names.
Jeff and I have joked repeatedly through the years that there's a book floating somewhere around the universe - a book we haven't yet seen - that contains nothing but code words that new churches use when trying to pick out a name. The end result: a potential parishioner (in a perfect world, anyhow) should be able to drive around town, reading off the names, until they find the church that exactly fits their needs just by reading the sign by the street.Some words are more obvious than others: Baptist, Methodist, and Catholic come to mind. A notable exception is 'Church of Christ,' which can be either a sect (as in "Church of Christ on Fifth Street") or a code phrase ("Church of Christ in Prophecy") or something else entirely ("Church of Christ Scientist").
Past that exception, the words quickly become confusing for the average passer-by. What is a 'primitive' Baptist? A 'True Temple Church of God'? (Are the others false temples?) What about "Church of God" in general? (The literal readers among us might ask, 'As opposed to...?')
My favorite Huntsville church name still has to be 'Pentecostal House of Prayer & Deliverance.' Now that, my friends, is as fundamentally descriptive of a church name as you're likely to find in this area. It has to be a bit difficult getting that name to fit on an address label, but no one who walks into that church has the slightest doubt of what will be found there on a Sunday morning.
Ah, the South. As far as I can tell, humanity hasn't been officially informed that the deep South is actually another planet. A pity, really; perhaps if we just broke down and told them, we could finally secure the right to shoot Southern-Challenged Yankees on sight.
As far as I can tell, visitors not from the South fall into the following highly unofficial categories:
- damn Yankees
- New Yorkers
New Yorkers and carpetbaggers
These two categories can be considered together, as their attitudes and actions are identical, though their origins differ. Classic New Yorker reaction to anything Southern is approximately 0.05 seconds of "Oh, how delightfully rustic" followed by an in-depth explanation of why [New York, for New Yorkers; other-random-city for Carpetbaggers] is far more technologically/socially/culturally advanced than the South.
Until some official apologies are secured for the large-scale burnings in Georgia, we plan to shoot Carpetbaggers on sight until further notice. They're not as intrinsically funny as New Yorkers, whom we let live because their shoes are funny.
Cultural example: This category is generally unwelcome at barbecues. (Something about not wasting a perfectly good pig on them.)
Behavioral example: When presented with a baseball cap by a Southerner, a New Yorker or Carpetbagger will pretend they didn't hear the offer because a) the hat was tacky b) it would mess up their hair c) they couldn't understand the dialect of the question.
Not quite so bad as New Yorkers or Carpetbaggers and, resultingly, less likely to be shot on sight by the locals. Generally reserved for those who move south and steadfastly refuse to drawl their words. Occasionally, this phrase is a compliment - see 'folks.' The difference between "damn Yankees" and just plain "Yankees" is generally determined by thickness of accent; "damn Yankee" accompanied by the rolling of eyes generally translates to "Can't understand a word she said."
Cultural example: You'd invite a Yankee to a barbecue partly for the humor value, and partly so they could finally find out what soul food was really like.
Behavioral example: When presented with a baseball cap by a Southerner, a [damn] Yankee will actually acknowledge the question, but may or may not take the hat, depending on what team logo is printed on it.
As a rule, 'visitors' are not shot. They've been here a while. They understand the rules, though don't always play by them. No drawl, but a refreshing lack of the superiority complexes seen in other categories. Usually really good for storytelling - this is the first category allowed to tell redneck jokes, because they're equally likely to tell funny Yankee stories too.
Cultural example: You'd invite a visitor to a barbecue because they probably like the food.
Behavioral example: When presented with a baseball cap by a Southerner, a visitor will take the hat, thank the giver, and possibly put it on immediately. Once they get home, they'll decide whether or not to wear it again.
In other words, "us." Someone who moved South, caught on, relaxed a bit, and got over themselves in the process. May still occasionally be referred to as "damn Yankee" but in the best possible light: "He might be a damn Yankee, but he's always around when you need him."
Cultural example: You'd invite folks to a barbecue because if you didn't, it'd be rude and your wife would beat you six ways to Sunday.
Behavioral example: When presented with a baseball cap by a Southerner, folks will take the hat, thank the giver, and immediately put it on. If they like it, they'll be buried with it. If they don't, it'll be their fishing hat and they'll still wear it anyway.
With that explained, I'll mention that Jeff and I went out hunting for barbecue last night. Call it what you want: barbecue, barbeque, bar-b-q, bbq, or just pulled pork. There are three main types of barbecue sauce: red (tomato-based), white (mayonnaise-based), and yellow (mustard-based).
If you want to see cluelessness about barbecue, read this article by a painfully deluded Atlanta writer. Hate to break it to him, but mustard-based barbecue isn't an Alabama thing, it's a South Carolina thing - apparently he can't tell Alabama from South Carolina (hint: read the road signs on your way out of Georgia).
Mustard-based is rare around here; if that's your favorite, you're unlikely to find anything that reminds you of home. White sauce is a deep-deep-DEEP-South sauce for barbecued chicken; I've never seen anyone put it on pork.
The true debate comes down to the red sauce. There are two varieties: sweet and thick, and thin and vinegary. If you were raised on sweet red sauce, you're likely to turn your nose up at vinegar-based sauces for the rest of your life and vice versa. Most businesses do only one, and assume that those who are of a different sauce religion will just go somewhere else for their Q.
Every now and then you'll find a business that does both: they slow-roast until the meat flakes, and then provide your choice of sauces on the table. They'll ply you with hush puppies (hush domesticats?) and plop down a pile of pulled pork that, when doused with the sauce of your choice, isn't quite home but tastes like something that, eaten enough times, might just take its place.
You'll have to excuse me; it's nearly one p.m. and those sauce-doused leftovers in the fridge are calling my name.