Barbecue Restaurant Sparks National US Debate

The subject of barbecue has become somewhat controversial in recent days – thanks to the ever-present US presidential campaign (even on British TV screens).

The demise of one local barbecue joint in Virginia it seems has spawned a national debate. On one side of the argument Republican candidate Mitt Romney accuses President Obama of destroying 80 year old local landmark Bill’s Barbecue due to his placing “unncessarily high taxes on small businesses.” On the other hand, supporters of the Democrats say the barbecue restaurant was on its way out anyhow because it couldn’t compete with the more modern methods of barbecue cooking introduced by its competitors.

Bill’s Barbecue joins the fray

As a result of the row Bill’s Barbecue has become a focus in Virginia while both parties campaign for the vote of thousands of residents in the east coast state where electorate opinion is currently tied.

A TV advert shows a rose-tinted view of Bill’s Barbecue in Richmond which, decades ago, became famous for miles around due its must-have pies and limeade. Thousands of hungry Americans said they enjoyed ‘driving in’ and being served barbecue ribs or other grilled delicacies by a waitress in their car.

Reviews on today’s restaurant sites describe Bill’s Barbecue as an icon and once the ‘hippest go to venue’ around.

But a local radio station reporter disputes the text of the advert, claiming that the reason the restaurant went under was because the food was overpriced, service poor and the décor tired. Reviews on similar restaurant sites described the food in unflattering terms and said the restaurant was only fit to eat in if you were “on your way to rehab.”

Barbecue Meat

Owner of a rival restaurant called Buz and Ned’s confirmed they had thrived over the past three years to the extent they could afford to open a second restaurant earlier this year.

Meanwhile, other barbecue news this week centres around barbecued (prepared) meats in Hong Kong where it’s reckoned residents consume around 66,000 tons of the food, known as siu mei, every year.

In China the meat isn’t grilled however but spit-roasted over fire or cooked in an upright rotisserie oven. It’s often served up with pieces of steamed chicken.

Once the meats are cooked and prepared they tend to be hung from the ceiling of restaurants (like ham in Spain). In a typical Chinese barbecue restaurant the fayre will most likely be siu mei together with rice, rice noodles or egg noodles.

One of the more popular dishes in Hong Kong is Chinese Pork or char siu (‘fork burned’ in translation). This is prepared by barbecuing a piece of seasoned boneless pork either on a rotisserie grill or an open fire. The seasoning will usually involve honey, fermented tofu, rice wine and spices.

Another favourite is Barbecued Goose where the bird is seasoned then cooked in a charcoal oven until the skin is crispy and the flesh tender enough to serve up (usually with plum sauce). Those travelling through can actually buy this already prepared and packed under the name of ‘Airplane Roast Goose.’

If you fancy a new barbecue then take a break from reading and browse through our fantastic gas barbecue range here.