New converts are always a delight. This is true in churches. Someone becomes a new convert and because of their choice of a particular church or religious denomination, they become especially zealous for that family of faith. How many times have you heard of a new convert to Catholicism, “He is more Catholic than the Pope?” The same could be said of converts to other faiths. This is good. It prompts new converts to express their enthusiasm to their friends and to invite them to become converts, too. This is one secret to a church’s growth. If your church is declining, it may be because you are not winning new converts.
When folk from other places move south, they hear the “ain’t from around here” comment all the time. But because they chose to move south they are usually quick to try to pick up some aroundhereness quickly. That’s a compliment to the old pioneers who got here earlier. I have two new friends — Mary Z. Longstreth and Marcia Knight — who just got here recently. They moved from the Midwest to live in Asheville. They made a wise choice of a place to live in their retirement. Now they are working on becoming Southerners.
Mary Z. sent me some of the stuff they have been studying about becoming from around here. She thought I might find it amusing because I’m an immigrant, too — although from just across the mountains in Tennessee. Here is just a sampler of what they have already learned: (1) A possum is a flat animal that sleeps in the middle of the road. (2) The word “jeet” is actually a phrase meaning “Did you eat? (3) You know what a “hissy fit” is. (4) “Fixinto” is a word that means getting ready to” do something. (5) “Jawl P?” means “Did y’all go to the restroom?” (6) Fried catfish is the other white meat.
Here is an indication of a flaw in the curriculum of these two avid students in the college of Southern-friedness. And this is a very important thing. The first white meat in Southern cuisine is pork. Second is fried chicken. Third is baked turkey with cornbread dressing. Then maybe fried catfish — especially on Friday nights at your favorite fish house or fish camp. But you gotta start with pork when you talk about white meat in the South. And you gotta get right to the barbecue.
I want to be sure I don’t lead these newcomers astray. You can arouse some pretty nasty food fights over who makes the best barbecue here in the Old North State. And I don’t want to get them in trouble. Especially in Asheville, which is blessed with a bunch of fine dining restaurants. But those places are filled with people with hoity toity taste buds.
I’m going to recommend the Little Pigs BBQ joint. It has been a fixture there for many years. During the years I lived in Asheville, I ate there many times. It was a great place to walk in and have an impromptu lunch with neighbors and friends. It isn’t a fancy place that anyone will want to franchise. But it’s sort of like ground zero for beginning a crash course in the first white meat in the South.
When I Googled the Little Pigs, I found several folk had given poor reviews of the place. I could tell instantly that you wouldn’t want any of those dyspeptic culinary critics at your house for dinner ... or supper. But that’s yet another debatable Southern issue — what to call the evening meal?