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Ethnic barbecue in Charlotte 

Eastern- and Lexington-styled barbecue aren't the only barbecue game in town. Since 2006, Dr. Tom Hanchett, staff historian of the Levine Museum of the New South, has organized a "New South Barbecue Tour" (of which I have been a guest speaker/tour guide for the past three years). This year, we shared Korean dai han, Vietnamese banh mi, Salvadorian papusa, and Mexican barbacoa. This event sells out quickly so put it in your tickler box for next summer. Call the Museum for more information: 704-333-1887 x 501.

But before you make join in the event, read up on a few local spots that serve global smoked goodies:

• Go whole hog at Van Loi, Chinese and Vietnamese Barbecue, that quirky little outpost of Asian cuisine on Central Avenue. You can order a flattened pig's face or a Chinese barbecued suckling pig of up to 30 pounds for about $276 per pig, which will feed about 50 people according to the manager. Orders need to be placed at least one week in advance and they suggest that if you are serving 100 people, it's better to order 3 suckling pigs rather than one older larger pig. Van Loi, Chinese and Vietnamese Barbecue, 3101 Central Ave. 704-566-8808.

• At Cho Won Garden Korean Barbecue & Cuisine you can have marinated beef or pork grilled tableside. Some tables have a built-in grills while others can be set up with portable gas burners and a perforated brass cook top. Once the meat is grilled, you make lettuce wraps with the meat and banchan, or condiments: chile paste, macaroni salad, pickled carrots, fermented mung beans, spicy daikon radishes, fried scallions, sweetened soy beans, sliced Korean green peppers, minced tofu and spinach, raw garlic, hot peppers, and kimchi. Cho Won Garden Korean Barbecue & Cuisine, 2501 Crown Point Executive Drive.

• My favorite ethnic barbecue in town is from Cocina Latina on Saturdays and Sundays. Their barbacoa de borrego, lamb barbecue, is sold for $15 per pound or $2 per taco. This barbecue is made in the traditional Mexican way: a splayed whole sheep cooked over gas with wood to flavor and covered with maguey cactus leaves. The leaves of the maguey plant are similar in size and shape to the Agave or a Spanish Sword, and the slow release of the juices from the leaves keep the lamb tender while also seasoning the meat. The result is spectacular, similar to a Carolina whole pig barbecue. A pound of barbecue comes with five corn house-made tortillas; a mix of chopped cilantro and white onion; a dozen or so quarters of limes; and two types of sauces: the verde and the roja. Go early. The restaurant frequently sells out. Cocina Latina, 5135 Albemarle Road. 704-531-5757.

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