Biscuits are ready every morning by 7, Monday through Friday, at this farmland market. Saturday — and only Saturday — it becomes a barbecue destination. Just across the road from the little grocery store is an iron pit in which in which pitmaster Roland Brown smoke-cooks ribs, pork shoulder, and chicken. Rib meat is slick and soft, booming with porcine luxury; chicken is less wanton but utterly without tooth resistance, especially benefiting from an application of Waterwheel’s zesty-sweet sauce.
South Carolina barbecue is hogcentric but does usually include significant side dishes. Here you find hash on rice, of course, the area’s traditional smoke-meat companion, delivering complex visceral satisfaction. There’s mac ‘n’ cheese, natch, cooked in a regular home-kitchen oven at the back of the grocery store until the big panful develops a chewy skin on top and a crunchy edge, all the while staying molten within. Sharing space in the oven are porky barbecued beans and a broad pan of peach cobbler. Arrive any time mid-day and everything will be served oven-hot. (Prior to noon, some items might not be quite ready.) The one exception to the hot-is-good rule is Ms. Rosa’s egg-enriched potato salad, so cool and refreshing.
Waterwheel’s memorable, true-country meals are all sold in Styrofoam take-out containers and the only on-premises dining is at a few picnic tables out front by the side of the road.
(Thanks to Betty and Bob Alexander for tipping me off to this irresistible Roadfood gem.)