When talking about food, ‘medium rare’ refers to cooking meat so the outside is browned with just a hint of red in the middle, striving to provide the perfect combination of tenderness and flavor. This column, much like its namesake, strives to provide the perfect combination of epicurean insight and Atlanta-area atmosphere.

Few things in life send a southerner’s mouth watering like barbecue. BBQ, Bar-B-Q, barbeque. It doesn’t matter how you spell it, it’s still one of the south’s greatest culinary contributions to society.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, to barbecue is “to cook food on a barbecue; to broil or roast meat, fish, etc. over hot coals or an open fire,” but the true definition is so much more.

Barbecue is not a meal that is universal in style, but it is universal in taste. Regional differences and superiorities reign, with each style providing its own sweet (or spicy) take on mouthwatering meat. While Atlanta does not (yet) have its own signature style of barbecue, the city too busy to hate is a mecca for the meat that keeps on giving. Below, I give you a quick rundown of each style and the best Atlanta examples.

Carolina Style

Carolina style is just as diverse as the colors of the rainbow. Eastern North Carolina ‘cue uses the whole hog and has a vinegar-based sauce, whereas Western North Carolina uses the dark meat of the pork shoulder.

South Carolina is famous for its “Carolina Gold” sauce that is a combination of yellow mustard, vinegar, brown sugar and several other spices.

In Atlanta, there are plenty of options to get your Carolina fix. Pig-N-Chik on the corner of Clifton and Briarcliff has a tasty sauce that will satisfy your cravings. Smokebelly BBQ in Buckhead also has a kickass Carolina Gold sauce.

Memphis Style

Ah, Memphis. Perhaps the only thing as memorable and meaningful as the sweet, soulful tunes of Beale Street is Memphis-style barbecue. The main difference here is that Memphis style is mostly made using pork, usually ribs and shoulders. After being slow-cooked, the barbecue is either “dry” rubbed with spices or “wet,” when sauce is literally falling of the bone, begging to be eaten.

You can’t really replace the original beauty that is Memphis barbecue, but try the aptly-named Memphis BBQ Co. in Dunwoody.

Kansas City Style

A byproduct of Southern immigration, Kansas City style barbecue is the most interesting of the four styles. The style is characterized by many different meats, particularly beef, and its distinguishing mark is the sauce. After being smoked with a dry rub, the connoisseur of Kansas City meat will enjoy a sweeter barbecue sauce.

Yeah, you’re not going to find this in Atlanta. If you’re ever in the Midwest, though, try Joe’s Kansas City Bar-B-Que.

Texas Style

Perhaps Atlanta’s best barbecue joint, Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q is the quintessential example of Texas-style barbecue. The golden-brown standard of barbecue — it’s exactly what you would expect when eating barbecue. There’s really nothing else to say.