To me North Carolina is more than just where I’m from; it’s a way of life. From late night drives back from the beach, nodding off gently to the sound of passing cars on I-40, to the whisper of propane at midsummer cookouts, the nostalgia not only hits home but is home. Every North Carolinian worth their salt, or perhaps barbecue sauce, has had their fair share of pulled pork sandwiches. For a dish so beautifully simple, the history is woefully complex, just like that of our state. From the Greensboro sit-ins in Woolsworth department stores to the integration of public high schools, like my own, North Carolina’s history was one defined by the dichotomy between black and white. Yet, in such complex times, commonalities existed, one being food. Pulled pork sandwiches, derived from the meat of the cheap pork shoulder cut, were something that could be found in any backyard cookout, enjoyed by all races and socioeconomic classes. The simplicity of sweet, barbecue pork lodged between two airy pieces of bread became not only a defining piece of our state’s heritage but an eventual commonality in a time of differences. To this day, local restaurants still serve this simple meal to all kinds of North Carolinians reminding us that sometimes the most important thing in life, no matter who we are and where we come from, is what we can bring to the table.
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