05/30/04 — Have barbecue, will travel

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Have barbecue, will travel

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on May 30, 2004 9:18 AM

A Wayne County couple is on a mission to provide eastern North Carolina barbecue to missionaries living in the western United States.

Steve and Sylvia Shafer are heading out Tuesday in an 18-foot-long camper, complete with a pig cooker.

The couple will be holding pig pickings in Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Washington, California and Nevada throughout the summer and fall.

They will be providing the vinegar-based barbecue at missionary reunions for the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints.

Shafer said he first got the idea for the trip when a missionary called him in 1994, saying how much he missed North Carolina barbecue.

"I told him to get a pig cooker and cook his own, but he said he didn't know how," Shafer said.

Not long after that conversation Shafer saw a program on the history of North Carolina barbecue. He taped the program and added a little extra footage about Goldsboro's history.

He also added footage from a pig pickin' in his own back yard, to show him how he cooked the pig.

Since that time, Shafer said, he's probably sent between 150 to 200 tapes to the parents of missionaries. The tapes have made the families hunger for North Carolina barbecue.

"I decided that when I retired I would go out there and make them barbecue," he said. "So now we're going."

Shafer learned to cook barbecue by watching Johnny Mangrum Brock of Grantham barbecue a pig.

His love for barbecue began 40 years ago.

"The first time I ate at Scott's Barbecue in 1964, liked it so much, I bought a case of the sauce," he said.

He took that case with him back on his Navy ship and spent the next few months doctoring up his meat with the savory sauce.

In the past two years he's done about 15 to 20 pig pickings, but he's planning to do 23 between now and November.

"I think it will be an interesting trip," he said. "I don't think I'll get tired of barbecue."