A while ago, in the grand thread he started in the Roadfood forums about restaurants in and around Augusta, Georgia, Chickenplucker posted a photo of a Perry’s Pig barbecue sandwich topped with cracklins. The picture set my mouth watering, and the sandwich, which I came to taste soon thereafter, made me dance a Roadfood jig of joy. The velvety chopped-up pork is quite elegant in flavor, slightly sweet and faintly laced with the taste of smoke, magnificently abetted by cinnabar-red sauce that is just hot enough to snap taste buds to attention. The cracklins on top of the pork are out of this world: a great spill of crumbled-up pure pig flavor, so hard and crunchy that they are shocking at first bite. Then they are addictive, and soon I found myself forking all around the Styrofoam container in which the sandwich was served for just one more crunch. (Perry’s sandwiches are overstuffed enough that forks are required.)
This is hash and rice country, and Perry ‘s concocts an oinky hash to accompany barbecue plates. Frankly, it looks kind of scary – certainly nothing you’d see in a pretty-picture, glossy food magazine – but it has a rich, sweet, and utterly authentic flavor that is hard to resist. I had mine on the side of a chicken leg and thigh, both of which had been slow-cooked to a point of fall-apart tenderness. Vivid collard greens, bright and green-flavored and pork-enriched, are a good side, and macaroni and cheese has a pleasant chewy consistency that contrasts well with the cracklins. Beans and slaw are alright, although not in the same league as the magnificent smoke-pit meats, hash, and cracklins.
Ambience is Roadfood supreme. Located on a forlorn industrial road, offering only a few outside counters as dining space (nearly all business is take-out), Perry’s Pig is a tumbledown enterprise, but with irresistible allure in its perfume of sweet wood smoke and pork that coils up from the pit. Inside, staff members Maria and Desmond took wonderful care of me as proprietor Leroy looked on from the back kitchen. As I hemmed and hawed over the menu, which is posted in permanent marker on large sheets of cardboard tacked to the walls, regular customers offered a never-ending stream of advice over what goes with what and whether or not we should get the hotter sauce.
Coming here, making friends with the staff, eating a magnificent meal al fresco, then later digging into some fine leftovers all added up to the sort of experience that makes finding Roadfood a never-ending adventure. Chickenplucker, I thank you for leading the way!