In 2017, I have a lot to be thankful. I earned a NASA Early Career Achievement Award, I was featured on an entire episode of Cooking Channel Man Fire Food, and I was the Distinguished Lecturer at Delaware State University, all of which are humbling accomplishments when I think about where I am from in South Carolina. The opportunity to meet some amazing new people like Pierre Thiam, Serigne Mbaye, Clint Boulder, Nat Bradford, Francis Morean, Aduke Edwards, Hardette Harris, Evan McCommon, Bryan Furman, Modou Jaiteh, Jim Embry, Julie Shaffer, Albertha Lawson and Kevin Mitchell just to name a few were what made this year even better. All of this would not have been possible without my wife’s and family support.
A major part of the reason, I met these people were because of me getting back into a tradition that I was thought was dying several years ago, in SC whole hog bbq by uncelebrated people who preserved the tradition unknowingly. As I quickly glance over my IG or FB feed this year, I did not see one SC whole being bbq’d and I was reminded why I got back into this tradition because I felt the people who preserved this for another generation are tired and it was up to the next generation to pick up and keep it going. Whole hog bbq is making a reemergence but the people who maintained this tradition on cinder blocks pits, tin pits, fuel tank pits, etc, are still decreasing. I saw a lot of smoked or fried turkeys on my feed, but I thought I would have seen at least one hog. What I remembered growing up was the hog was the main Thanksgiving meat and the turkey was second. Just another lesson, the turkey was often found on the pit right beside the hog placed where the head would be. I guess it is a reminder as while new traditions are forming and evolving, we must all be careful not to lose traditions that have been valuable to our own irrespective communities, whether whole hog bbq in South Carolina or some classic creole dish in New Orleans. The reason, I will stay committed to this work as a number of those home bbq cooks who were also farmers were the real pitmasters as they are called today. Also, it is my responsibility as the people before me sacrificed a lot so I can be where I am today and many were not able to get an education. I am extremely thankful and grateful that I can share their stories and journey as my own life’s work evolved from BBQ to Rocket Science.
Happy Thanksgiving and thanks for being part of the journey in 2017. If you are interested in me coming to speak, lecture, or cook with your group in 2018, please don’t hesitate to contact me.