“Barbecue sauce is like a beautiful woman. If it’s too sweet, it’s bound to be hiding something.” ~ Lyle Lovett
This ever happen to you?
You’re eating something healthy — veggie stir fry, tofu salad, homemade granola — when suddenly, an innocent little voice whispers in your ear:
“baby back ribs.”
Of course you ignore it. You’re sticking to your plan. No meat for you.
You. Are. Strong.
But with your next purposeful, politically correct bite, the voice gets louder:
“Sweet, Smoky, Spicy. Fall-off-the-bone tender. Lick your greasy fingers.”
You cover your ears, but
“PICNICS COLE SLAW BISCUITS RED-CHECKED TABLECLOTHS FIDDLE MUSIC.”
After a short pause
“TEXAS BRISKET TENNESSEE BOURBON CORN ON THE COB BAKED BEANS POTATO SALAD P-U-L-L-E-D P-O-R-K FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!”
Man, oh, man. How can anyone resist? It’s not even a question of willpower. Human beings invented fire just to be able to cook big slabs of meat outside, and the need to tear said meat from bones with our bare teeth is positively primal.
What to do?
Toss that dainty napkin, throw away your fork. Fan those flames and revel in the smoke. Smear sauce on your face and repeat after me:
Oink . . . Grunt . . . MOO . . .
ME WANT BARBECUE!
* * *
ODE TO RIBS
by Tony Hoagland
The waitress says
the man at Table Three
is making noises.
You’d think she would be used to grunting
when the sun goes down
at Melvin’s Rib Château,
but this one’s whispering amen
into his marinade,
getting sauce all over his Armani.
It could be
he’s an escapee
from a gated community
of tofu burgers and arugula,
having succeeded his way
into a milieu
of Pilates and Lipitor.
Now he’s speaking in tongues,
saying, Bring me
another slab of mastodon,
It is the sound of
a biblical digging-down.
A rescue mission
of smoked pig and Budweiser.
Trying to find out
if his inner philistine
still has an appetite.
* * *
It’s fascinating how barbecue means different things to different people. If you tossed that word around in Hawai’i, you’d probably be talking about beef teriyaki or Korean barbecue — marinated shortribs (kalbi) or thin slices of tender beef (bulgogi).
But for everyone else it’s basically “Southern Barbecue” with all its regional manifestations — choice of meats, cuts, and various sauces (brushed on or served on the side).
In addition to being seduced by baby back ribs now and again, I still think about the juicy, tender-as-butter brisket I had at The County Line in Austin, Texas, years ago. Even though I’ve always been partial to fish, beef like that makes you sit up and moo (they also have the best cole slaw I’ve ever eaten in a restaurant).
So what’s your pleasure? Chicken, pork or beef? Do you like a vinegar-based sauce, or a sweet tomato-y sauce? Who makes the best ribs in your neck of the woods?
See ya ’round the fire.
* * *
Follow the smoke signals to the Poetry Friday Roundup at Carol’s Corner to feast on all the poetic goodies being served up in the blogosphere this week.
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This post is also being linked to Beth Fish Read’s Weekend Cooking, where all are invited to share their scrumptious food-related posts.
Copyright © 2013 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.