Barbecue. Barbeque. Bar-b-que. BBQ.

No matter how you spell it, we can agree on one thing: with a plate of barbecue in hand, all is right with the world.

We treat barbecue a little differently here in North Carolina. Equal parts art, tradition, religion and celebration, barbecue is something to be taken seriously, made lovingly, laughed over and shared. We eat it in restaurants, at college football tailgates, in backyards and at church picnics, washed down with sweet tea, next to family and friends and strangers. We’ll argue about our favorite styles and the merits of this sauce or that, but in the end it’s barbecue—an essential part of North Carolina’s DNA.