Note: This project was conducted before the formal inception of the SFA’s oral history program. It differs in scope and format from later SFA oral history projects.

Memphis is the epicenter of urban barbecue, standing ribs and shoulders above all other Tennessee cities. But rural western Tennessee matters, too. Here, they smoke the whole hog, a tradition that is as ancient as the woods, requiring a commitment of time, smoke, and sweat. In the spring of 2003, Amy Evans, April Grayson, and Joe York hit the road to find the pitmasters who still swear by this kind of slow smoking. What follows is their documentation of a culinary tradition that, against all odds, still thrives in communities like Jack’s Creek.

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