Alabama Barbecue

Pie and Pig
Gary D. Ford
Big Bob Gibson's Bar-B-Q

Sauces coat meat in many colors in Alabama. A light vinegar soaks the chopped pork at Whitt's Barbecue in Athens (with locations in Ardmore, Hartselle, Cullman, and Decatur as well), a drive-through with alfresco dining under a big hackberry tree. In Decatur Big Bob Gibson's Bar-B-Q serves a tangy mayonnaise sauce that is excellent with chicken.

Diners may also select Gibson's mild red sauce or the fiery vinegar, then douse the flames with cool cream pies. "Sometimes the pie is as important as the pig," says Travel Assistant Tanner Latham. In the Birmingham area, we love Honey's Pies at Johnny Ray's, the famous lemon pie at Bob Sykes BarB-Q, or the Key lime pie at Pat James Full Moon Bar-B-Que.

Barbecue has long seasoned community gatherings throughout Alabama. Huntsville newspapers in the 1830s headlined stories "Ball and Barbecue," while elsewhere in the region editorial writers condemned these dance-feasts for the flowing whiskey and pandering politicians.

With integration in the 1960s, whites and blacks broke bread and ribs together at Dreamland Bar-B-Que, an African American-founded institution in Tuscaloosa. Later, when a location opened in a derelict Birmingham area, Dreamland's steady business helped clean up the neighborhood. (Dreamland also has locations in Atlanta and Mobile.)