Fred Smith is not the only person traveling and eating barbecue in every part of the state.I am, too.As a part of his campaign for governor, Smith plans to have a barbecue event in every one of our 100 counties. My reason for traveling far and wide to sample food in diverse parts of the state is different from Smith's. I am updating "Interstate Eateries," a "glove compartment" book published by Our State magazine. The little book identifies and describes locally owned "home-cooking" restaurants near the interstate highways. Its purpose is to give travelers the opportunity to eat where folks who live in the area go to eat, drink coffee, exchange news and be comfortable.The food is important, of course, but having a serving person who keeps your iced tea glass full and calls you "honey" is what people really like.Some home-cooking restaurants are simple "meat and two vegetable special plate" places. A few feature hot dogs, hamburgers or sandwiches. The largest group is of long-time, family-owned, home-cooking restaurants that feature barbecue. You find them in small towns and cities all across the state, from the mountains to the coast.Sometimes people ask, "What is your favorite kind of barbecue -- Eastern or Lexington style?" "Real" North Carolinians are supposed to understand that question and have a ready answer, one that shows they know the difference between vinegar-based and tomato-based sauces. It's even better if they have an opinion about whether pork shoulder or whole hog makes better barbecue.I bet Fred Smith has found a way to give a political answer to this question -- one that sounds authoritative but offends nobody. Actually, this kind of question is based on a false assumption. The dividing lines between the two supposed traditions (Eastern and Lexington) are hazy. And most of the better barbecue cookers develop their own ways cooking and flavoring methods, ones that are not bound to either of the two supposed traditions.For instance, three generations of the Dillard family have been serving barbecue flavored with a mustard-based sauce at their Durham restaurant. Some people say that the sauce is "South Carolina" style. The Dillards say it's their own style and that maybe South Carolina stole it from them.Maybe Kyle Fletcher, who runs a popular barbecue restaurant near Gastonia, has the best response to North Carolina's barbecue question. He says, "I don't put nuthin' on my meat -- except hickory and charcoal smoke. That way, they've got an option to put whatever sauce they want on my barbecue."Barbecue is a small feature of another small local eatery. In Hillsborough, Dorothy and Leon Lea have been building a fan base at Riverside Cafe, located right next to the Eno River. Food expert Bob Garner recently wrote in Our State magazine that Dorothy "prepares some of the best baked chicken I've ever eaten, and vegetables like boiled cabbage and squash 'n' onions are truly memorable." These kinds of places are where local people are likely to gather and talk to their friends about what is worrying them.While Fred Smith is making his barbecue tour and the other candidates for governor are traveling the state, making a few stops in these home-cooking restaurants could be a good way to find out what North Carolinians are taking about to each other.