The National Capital Barbecue Battle expects thousands of visitors this weekend.
I owe my earliest memory of a chopped barbecue sandwich to the Dixie Pig, a roadhouse drive-in in Bladensburg, Maryland. My parents, aunts and uncles all grew up in
Bladensburg, a small town near Washington, D.C. that's been around since its heyday as a seaport in colonial America. I think they all had first dates at the Dixie Pig, and the restaurant's barbecue has always been part of family story-telling.
I mention this to point out to Memphis skeptics that southern barbecue traveled well beyond Tennessee. But does the nation's capital have enough cred to merit the National Capital Barbecue Battle? Apparently 100,000 people think so. That's the number of visitors expected to attend this weekend's competition, started 20 years ago when President Bill Clinton was in the White House.
Since 1997, the barbecue battle has been held on Pennsylvania Avenue, but competition regulations have flip-flopped between Memphis in May rules and and the Kansas City Barbeque Society, according to an excellent story in The Washington Post. For more on the political shenanigans of our favorite food, click here for Jim Shahin's story.