Although it's obvious this wasn't written for a Southern audience:
"It was my idea to pick a spot in the middle of what one of my New York gastronome friends fondly calls the Lard Belt and then eat my way slowly east until, like General Sherman, I reached the sea.
"Lard Belt"? "General Sherman"?!? WTF?? Oh! Wait! This explains it: "As a professIonal restaurant critic and card-carrying Yankee food snob, I'd dined around the world, in New York, Tokyo, and the great food capitals of Europe and Asia.
Money quotes from the people he interviewed:
"I never in a million years thought high rollers in white-tablecloth restaurants would want a taste of my hillbilly ham."
"…and ancient Cherokee pole beans, which he said came from an old Cherokee bear hunter up in the mountains. "Compared with the modern bean that we're used to, these beans have an earthy, rich taste," said Coykendall, as a couple from Houston came by to snap his picture. "I call the modern green bean the Yankee bean. You heat it up frozen out of a bag and slap some butter on it. It tastes like nothing."
"Faux Southern food, that's a Northern thing," said Cheri as I wiped drips of the buttery, golden liquid from my new goatee. "Down here there's nothing faux about the good things. It's all in the ingredients and technique."
"I was the number one man on the scene ten years ago, and I started with just two pigs," said DeFelice, as we squatted down next to a giant old Large Black sow who was taking her ease under a holly tree. "I used to raise vegetables, but they're perishable. I raised chickens, but they're too puny. I raised sheep, but they're stupid. Now look at the pig. The pig is intelligent. There's a fan club for every part of the animal. You call this boutique farming, I call it old-fashioned. Everybody used to raise pigs like this; they just stopped doing it. Now we're doing it again, and all that negative energy which used to surround the pig has been released. Now everybody loves the pig!"
"When I asked him to tell me the secret to his gourmet corn bread, a happy smile spread across his face. Except for the Benton's bacon bits, it was the same recipe he'd grown up on as a boy. "It's cornmeal, buttermilk, and a lot of lard," said the chef, "just like my mama used to make."
The Big Daddy Sampler at Martin's Bar-B-Que Joint
, in Nolensville, Tennessee, includes ribs, pork, brisket, half a chicken, six wings, and-if you've still got room-three pints of side dishes.