Anyplace outside of Memphis calling itself “The Barbecue Capital of the World” is going to get raised eyebrows from me. Owensboro, Kentucky makes that claim, so I headed there to check it out. My destination was the Moonlite Bar-B-Q Inn, the most celebrated barbecue pit in town.
Moonlite smokes the usual: pork–ribs, shoulder and ham–chicken, and beef. The unusual item coming off the pit is mutton. Why mutton? According to a booklet published by the Bosley family. who owns the Moonlite, one possibility is that Welsh farmers who settled the area were partial to mutton, while another theory holds that Catholic immigrants from Europe would serve mutton at their picnics. However it got here, mutton is a big presence on the Moonlite menu: the place smokes some 10,000 pounds of mutton a week.
I still prefer pork, but the mutton was interesting to try. Moonlite serves everything but ribs in their buffet. which costs $9 at lunch, $12.15 for dinner Monday through Thursday, and $14.75 on weekends. They also offer “fiddlers,” a term you hear in West Tennessee, which means an entire catfish minus the head.
Here’s a photo of Pat Bosley, a third generation member of the family that owns Moonlite. You can see quartered mutton on the top rack and pork shoulders down below.
Moonlite justifies a trip to Owensboro, which also hold a big barbecue festival every year. But Barbecue Capital of the World? No way!
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