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Grub on the Road Food Friday: BBQ Buffets, a National Treasure

There is a culinary delight in our country that I believe gets way too little notice: the southern BBQ buffet.

The typical BBQ buffet in the South has, of course, BBQ pork - the good ones have available the whole pig from which to do a pickin' - with several types of sauces, lest you offend anyone, fried chicken, fried fish of some kind, salad, collards, corn, black eyes or some other legume, mac and cheese, maybe a country style of ribs, green beans, corn bread or pone, mashed potatoes, rice, brown gravy, Brunswick stew, banana puddin' (No "G" on the end), and a peach or apple cobbler... or both. And, of course, sweet tea. You can add other things, but the above is a pretty good staple of what a BBQ buffet comprises.

Other hints about a good BBQ buffet: the large number of trucks in the parking lot at lunch. Also, if your cashier has a bee hive hairdo and wears glasses with a chain attached, loosen your belt, you're about to eat good.

For me, in my experience, the best BBQ buffets are in South Carolina - though Eastern North Carolina can stack up well with a good pig pickin' - especially in Columbia. My personal favorites are Little Pigs, located on Alpine Rd, near the I-20/ I-77 exchange, and Doc's, on Shop Rd. just down the road from Williams-Brice Stadium. Good food and, Lord, lots of it, well stocked and hot and absolutely a treat, in my honest opinion.

Doc's BBQ, Shop Rd. Columbia, SC

However, there is something else I think a good BBQ buffet can do. If you look around such a place, I mean, a town's treasured and long-established joint, the collection of people there are as varied as you can find:

Black, white, brown, soldiers, sheriff deputy, construction workers in hard hats and yellow vests, mamas with kids tagging along and eating way too much cobbler and ice cream, tie-wearing businessmen, black and white grandmas, a preacher man from the conservative Baptist and the more liberal Methodist church, factory workers with jeans and more. Seemingly, they're all here and it's because of that you can't find a place to park.

And it is within such a collection of people that I have long been convinced we could solve most of our country's problems with the sort of group. And do so in about an hour or two.

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