How to Smoke Your Kielbasa: The Rapture of Ignorance
It was a windows down sort of day, this day last, as I was driving about town. The hum of my tires on the road, and tweety birds chirping around every bend. No trace of snow anywhere, and the green things of this world gather now, conspiring in the warming light. Spring, if we get such a thing this year, looks poised to pop here, any day soon. I love this time year. Good weather to go for a drive, and to smell the earth unfold. Which is precisely what I was up to until I noted I was within striking radius of my elder brother’s abode. It’s usually a good time over there, so I thought I’d pull in, and visit him there for a while.
I was pleased to observe he was out on his driveway enjoying the day likewise. Brother had his motor home awning deployed, lawn chairs flipped out, and much to my delight, his little Weber grill was in service, puffing away like a mired toy battleship. The boy was “dug in”, not about to waste the beautiful spring day bestowed upon him. He greeted me with a smile as I walked up his drive way, and offered me his very best lawn chair. We sat together, at his urban camp, and chewed the fat a spell, like brothers do.
I noted his little Weber Smokey Joe was putting out a commendable smoke, and queried him accordingly.
“What do you have cooking there?” I asked
“Kielbasa!” he croaked. His grizzled face brimming with a joy usually reserved for 5-year-old school girls at Chuck E Cheese.
“Yup” he continued, “You have inspired me to try smoking. It’s been smoking away for about a half hour now in fact”
“Very cool”, I said, “The smoke looks a little funny tho, what sort of wood are you using?”
“”No idea”, he blurted.
I shook my head. Did he not know that the type of smoke wood was his leverage on poetry, his step stool to bragging rights, not to mention governor of the subtle effects it might impart upon his sausage.
“Well, where did you find this wood?” I queried again.
“Along side the road”, he belched.
My eyebrow raised. For all he knew, which admittedly wasn’t much about smoking, he could have tossed in some chips hewn from a manure-encrusted Lilac log , or worse yet, a pressure treated 2 x 4 or the like. The potential to defile his beloved Kielbasa hung in the balance. I just wanted to take over his cook, and land this plane.
“Well at least I soaked the chips”, he said. “That’s what you taught me to do!”
We milled about for a few more minutes in brother’s serene BBQ camp, and I gradually ebbed from critiquing his grill craft. For it was obvious, amid the afternoon sunbeams, that the man was clearly delighted with himself. I remember those heady days too, new to the smokey arts, where every thing I did was magic. Even if it was wrong. For in the BBQ and smoking sciences, there is a certain thrill undeniably embedded into the first portions of the learning curve. The first time you smell a cloud of mesquite wafting over your patio, and look upon those golden rays of sun slanting through it. Or the maiden voyage of a new smoker. Or your first 12 hour pork butt, when you had no idea what you were doing. Or the first time you try the minion method. The list goes on. Giddy times we old timers to the smokey arts look back on, in recollection, and smile. A smile kind of like what my brother had painted across his face today, whilst basking in the dubious aromas of an unknown smoke cloud. Pining for a smoked Kielbasa. Lost in the rapture of ignorance. Amen.