Thursday, September 09, 2004

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety-Jig

We're home. I apologize to those giving me a hard time for not writing immediately upon my return, but I just drove for two and a half days (should have been two, but we were twice given bad directions and ended up going the wrong way on the interstate for about 4 hours total) with a teething baby with diarrhea, a dog who was terrified of me and any vehicle with its engine on, and my father, who once didn't talk to me for two years for some still unknown reason. Hurricane Frances slapped us in the ass with a wet towel on our way out, I imagine for being so cocky about missing it over the weekend. It absolutely poured rain on us through the mountains and into Kentucky. Not fun driving.

I had a question about the barbecue. Eastern Carolina barbecue is a peppery vinegar-based sauce that contains no ketchup or mustard, served with pulled pork -- never beef. It can contain molasses and/or brown sugar, but it is thin and not sweet, and nothing like the ketchupy sauce you find in the grocery store. The whole hog is slow-roasted in a pit with this sauce, and the meat just falls off the bones and is sometimes chopped. We went to a place called Bullock's in Durham, NC, which always has a long line even though I am told there are better places. The only problem with eating-in at a barbecue place there is that they serve no alcohol, and you do miss the beer. There were twelve of us, counting the baby, so we ate family style, meaning big plates of all the food is just set around the table, and refilled when they empty.

You start out with hush-puppies, which are fried blobs of cornmeal batter seasoned with onion. Usually they are served with seafood, but they are a common starter at barbecue restaurants in the Carolinas, like tortilla chips and salsa are in Mexican restaurants. When they are dipped in honey butter I could eat them all day. Then the plates come out. The standard meal consists of pulled-pork barbecue, Brunswick Stew, coleslaw, and green beans. Brunswick stew was originally made with wild game like rabbit or squirrel, but now it is usually made with chicken. Every time I've had it it also contained corn and lima beans, although the ingredients tend ot vary depending on where you are. Dessert is usually banana pudding with a Nilla wafer crust, and maybe some kind of pie or chocolate cake. Here you can find another discussion about what the typical meal is like. My husband's family has been in North Carolina since colonial days, and this is how they eat their barbecue, so that's what I know.

As mentioned above, Peanut is FINALLY getting her first teeth. She's been having bumps pop up and down on her gums for months, but now at least one tooth is out and clicking against her toys. She won't let me look or even feel, so I can't tell if there is more than one. She has had the trots for the last week because of it. This isn't good as we just discovered her diaper rash was caused by all the "skin-soothing" ingredients used in her conventional disposable diapers, and the only kind that doesn't bother her is an insanely expensive unbleached brand found only in the organic food stores, none of which is open 24 hours a day. Yes, we normally use cloth diapers, but I wasn't going to haul poopy cloth diapers across the country for a week, and frankly hers don't hold it in well anyway. But yay, she has teeth! I am kind of sad to lose that gummy smile, though.

The dog was attacked pretty promptly upon arrival by the big bully cat (also from North Carolina, actually). She is happily chasing butterflies in the backyard for now, until I figure out how to keep them all from killing each other. Any suggestions would be much appreciated. She barks viciously at my neighbors when they pull into their driveway, so I'm sure we won't be getting any party invitations from them anytime soon, as well as at things I can't see. She does not bark when someone comes up to the front door, or around to the fence gate, which is when I want her to bark. That's ok, I guess. At least she's cute.

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