It’s probably worth reiterating that I am Southern. While I write about and cook a lot of food that seems, well… foreign to some people, I was Southern first.

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Yes, I’m of Minorcan-Ukrainian-Polish-German-Welsh-Huguenot-whatever descent, but most of my DNA has been around these parts for two or three generations. And because of that, nothing will get me to lock up the brakes on a back road in the middle of nowhere quicker than a cloud of thin, blue smoke and signs offering bait and barbecue.

Bolton’s is, technically, in the middle of nowhere. I grew up in another Southern state, in an area that was, technically, in the middle of nowhere. Technically, that makes me an expert on the subject. Don’t question it. I also grew up around my grandparent’s roadside barbecue joint in rural Florida so that makes me an expert on that subject as well.

Right off the bat, Bolton’s has a lot going for it – rural location with a corn field right across the road and the aforementioned thin blue smoke, fueled by a rack of seasoned oak.

Asking the guy in the rocker out front for permission to photograph his smoker resulted in a deeply drawled “I don’t care” – laden with equal parts apathy and judgmental subtext that I’d rather not expand upon. Many would call that a “Southern” thing, but it’s not. I’ve experienced that incredulous “why would anyone want to photograph their food being cooked” mixed with “I really can’t care to worry about what weird crap people do when they show up on my doorstep” all over the world, and it’s entirely understandable.

Anxious for some true roadside barbecue, we made our way inside. The greeting inside was warm but unfortunately our excitement waned as the food was served. Sausages were not home made and were dry, sauce was doctored store-bought and the pulled pork was reheated in a microwave (and was long overcooked way before it hit that box). The pitman’s “I don’t care” suddenly seemed more poignant. We made our way back to to the gravel parking lot and ate sitting in the tailgate of the SUV. Disappointment was such that I couldn’t bring myself to take more pictures.

Maybe I’ve become a snob (living in the big city and all that), but just like the wine adage, life is too short to eat bad barbecue…

Bolton’s Big Boys Bar B Que
Somewhere near Lawrenceville