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For a taste of the nation’s top barbecue, head to Memphis for the annual Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue competition (above) (photo courtesy Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue).

There’s a different connotation that comes with the word “barbecue” when uttered in hawai‘i. kalua pork, kalbi ribs, char siu and huli huli chicken are the usual varieties that come to mind. Vinegar-based BBQ sauce? Not so much.But for the southern U.S. states (Tennessee, Texas, Kentucky and the like), that’s type of barbecue that comes to mind. Served on a plate with butter-doused corn bread, crunchy cole slaw, home-style collard greens and stick-to-your-bones mac-and-cheese, southern barbecue is called comfort food for a reason. It just depends on who’s calling the shots.

If you were to ask a woman walking down the street in North Carolina, she’d tell you that peppery, vinegar-based barbecue sauce takes the crown—that a whole pig smoked over a pit where every part is chopped, served and mixed together with thin vinegar-based sauce is the way to do it. Those in South Carolina beg to differ. Over there, BBQ sauce is done in three ways: a peppery tomato based sauce in the west; a yellow mustard, vinegar and brown sugar BBQ sauce hybrid called “Carolina Gold” in central South Carolina; and a spicy, watery, vinegar-and-pepper sauce in the coastal region. Travel left toward Tennessee and you’ll see how they do it down in Memphis, where you’ll find both wet (brushed with sauce before and after cooking) and dry (seasoned with a dry rub) meat on the menu every year at the Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbeque competition. And who can forget Texas, who has their own riff on barbecue done right. Locals will swear by good ol’ Texas beef brisket, which carries an extra layer of pleasure thanks to the meat’s high fat content that prevents it from drying out during cooking. If you’re looking for a sauce that’s thick, sticky and sweet, head to Kansas where meat is smoked with a dry rub and served with a side of sauce for all your dipping needs.

In the caloric world of barbecued, grilled and smoke meats, sausage is a popular choice that falls under the label of “comfort food” around the globe. There’s Bratwurst with sauerkraut in Germany, sausage with peppers in Italy and chorizo in Spain. Quality sausage combines the best characteristics of all the other popular cuts of pork. A respectable sausage has fat, which is responsible for a sausage’s juiciness, and salt, which is also responsible for the sausage’s texture and retains the meat’s moisture during cooking. Sausage, like Memphis brisket or barbecue chopped pork from North Carolina, is tender, smoky and hearty—it’s undeniable comfort food, no matter who’s calling the shots.