If you’ve been lucky enough to eat at Anna Maes in recent months you’ll understand what I’m so excited about. The roving market stall has been transforming Londoners’ lunchtimes with their big, Southern US-style BBQ pulled pork and coleslaw sandwiches. But the road to porcine perfection isn’t easy – when I recently met owners Anna and Tony, I found out that it took a daring career change and an epic inter-state adventure to set them on the right path.
A few years back Anna was looking for something new. She’d given up her job in the woman’s sector and was casting around for a new direction. She tried a few voluntary positions, but started to consider street food when Anna and partner Tony – both long time devotees of Southern food – discovered they were unable to find any good pulled pork in London.
Things gathered pace from there. Anna and Tony became self-confessed “fanatical foodies,” visiting and eating at every market they could. But their real inspiration came at the start of 2011 when the pair undertook an epic 2000 mile journey through the American South West.
This trip of a lifetime took them deep into BBQ country as they traveled from California to Texas, through Arizona and New Mexico.
Whilst there they were consistently impressed by the enthusiasm and culture that surrounds BBQ in the states. As Anna explains, American-style BBQ is different to the British/Australian style. Instead of quickly grilling over an open flame, meat is smoked over an indirect heat for hours. It’s a mixture of Spanish, Native American, Creole and German influences, with sauces ranging from mustard based, tomato, vinegar, to nothing but a dry rub.
It’s this attention to detail and enthusiasm that Anna and Tony put into their food. Their pulled pork is done the American way – in a smoker – and comes out sweet, smoky and tender. The pork is pilled on top of a soft bun, and topped with a crunchy, lively coleslaw and a tangy homemade BBQ sauce. The whole thing equates to a happy handful of southern-style comfort food the bayou would be proud of.
And what does the future hold for Anna Mae’s? Plenty it seems. Their smokey pork goodness can now be at two permanent pitches per week, and they have plenty of events and menu changes in the works to keep things interesting.
Can’t wait to see how they get on.