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Free Form Friday Is Back, And Brought Barbecue.

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Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

Friday is the beginning of the weekend. Some weekends there is college football. Some weekends there's none. Life is cruel that way. For the Fridays when there's no college football to look forward to there is Free Form Friday, in which we take a break from sports talk to focus on other serious business.

As longtime readers of Dawg Sports will know, I'm a big barbecue fan. If there's a roadside barbecue joint in my path I'm stopping, and I'm often going to write about it here. Yesterday was one of those days when a roadside 'que restaurant just jumped up and stopped me in my tracks. I found myself in Newnan, a city known for stately homes, friendly folks, and Sprayberry's Barbecue.

Sprayberry's is one of those barbecue meccas that's not so much a restaurant as an institution. Billed as "family owned since 1926" Sprayberry's is famous as local boy/DGD Lewis Grizzard's favorite place for smoked pork. Legendary country music singer Alan Jackson waited tables there as a teenager. And generations of west Georgians have enjoyed the little restaurant on Jackson Street, swearing by it. Since I found myself in Newnan anyhow, I felt like I just had to stop in. For research.

First things first. Everything at Sprayberry's is vinegary. Vinegary enough that it made me imagine that Coweta County in the 1920's must have been a land where the only available provisions were pigs and streams of pure vinegar bubbling up from the rocks. The slaw is a mix of purple cabbage, vinegar, sugar, and just a dash of pickle relish. It turns a shade of pink that seems appropriate around Easter, but otherwise is just a little weird. It was good, and I imagine would work well if you like topping your pork sandwich with slaw. I may actually try to replicate it, just tuning the vinegar down from a 12 to a 6.

The sauce was...vinegary. And slightly peppery. It's served steaming in a bowl with a spoon. Like a little bowl of vinegar-based soup. It's thin, like most Georgia-style vinegar sauces, but without the sugary sweetness that's not really traditional but has crept into sauces. Would recommend.

The pork was,well, okay. Not much evidence of a smoke ring, and not terribly tender. There's an old brick pit in front of the restaurant, but I suspect it hasn't been used in years. Instead, I'm guessing this 'cue came out of a gas-powered smoker. There's science to this, I swear. One of the byproducts of propane combustion is water vapor, and I've always heard that water vapor interferes with smoke ring formation.

It wasn't the worst chopped pork I've had, I finished it. But I wasn't blown away. And for the $10.00 (including tip) that I paid I would have liked to have been blown away. Bottom line, it was worth the trip to be able to say I'd been there, but if Sprayberry's were across the street from Old Clinton BBQ in Gray or Chicken Comer's in Columbus, it's not where I'd be eating.

Feel free as always to use this thread to discuss your own barbecue experiences, music, movies, gardening tips, or the plethora of spring sports action going on in Bulldog Nation this weekend. If you need a primer on all the things going on, Mr. Sanchez already has you covered. Until later . . .

Go 'Dawgs!!!