How White Bread Became A Traditional Southern Barbecue Side Dish

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Over the past century, barbecue has become an art form and its own category of soul food with a panoply of side dishes like coleslaw, potato salad, macaroni and cheese, and pinto beans. While those sides cost extra, white bread comes included with the meat. Despite the stigma that packaged, processed white bread has incurred, it’s a mainstay at barbecue joints with both cultural and utilitarian significance. Barbecue is an everyman’s meal served over butcher paper or on trays in super casual, unpretentious atmospheres. White bread fits into the everyman ethos perfectly, even inspiring a sense of nostalgia for simpler

As a utilitarian ingredient, white bread has many uses. Its soft, spongey crumb and mild flavor soaks up all the sweet and tangy barbecue sauce and umami-rich juices that fall off the meat. Some people use it as an edible napkin to sop up all the meat and sauce on your plate at the end of the meal until it is so saturated that it melts in your mouth. Of course, you could always use the sliced white bread as a vehicle for the rest of the ingredients on your plate; top it with meat, pickles, onions, and sauce for an open-faced sandwich that you can fold and eat like a hot dog.

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