Like all great inventions, it began with a great need. Amanda Fisher and Paul Bright of Charlotte enjoy taking back roads when they travel, discovering hidden treasures and seeking out-of-the-way eateries, especially the ones that serve barbecue. Wishing for a comprehensive guide to make trip planning less time consuming, they realized that they would have to create one for themselves. As Fisher told Charlotte Magazine‘s Aleigh Acerni,
Well, really I was in the middle of planning this Florida trip. Whenever I plan a trip, it’s serious. I do some crazy digging—I’m like a little gopher to try to find all these things that are beyond the books. I had this memoir [Two For The Road by Jane and Michael Stern]. [I was] surrounded by maps and I’m reading this book and it just clicked: Well, this is what I need to be doing, something that involves travel…and storytelling, too. Because it’s about the things you discover along the way, and the people, and that’s always been a big part of what barbecue is to me…it carries so much about our state’s history and traditions. That’s one of the things that’s always drawn me to barbecue places.
Thankfully, their hard work crisscrossing the state to locate and document each locally owned restaurant benefits barbecue lovers everywhere.
They launched a Kickstarter campaign, hoping to crowd-source the $10,000 needed to finance the project; the enthusiastic response from donors made it clear that they had a concept that struck a chord. Bright is a geographer and Fisher has an English and creative writing background. Their combined talents produced a map that is practical and aesthetically beautiful with succinct yet meaningful details that capture the importance of barbecue and the restaurants themselves as focal points for community, sustenance, and sense of identity for North Carolinians.
Though they don’t rate the restaurants–preferring to let diners form their own opinions–they do identify what style of barbecue is served, along with other pertinent details. Fisher notes that though some menu features remain steadfast, there is room for change:
A lot of older places don’t have collard greens. Piedmont or Lexington style is more like hush puppies or slaw, obviously, baked beans, french fries. That’s about it. There’s all this history about these things and where they develop but they’re just all over the place now. Whole hog is traditionally eastern style, but you might find a place that does whole hog with Piedmont or Lexington style sauce. Or collard greens for sides. And maybe there’s something with mustard in it, so who knows?
The project initiated a new company, EDIA (Every Day is and Adventure), and new maps are already in the works.
Read more, purchase a map, or find out where you can buy one locally on their website, www.thegreatbbqmap.com.