A thin-blue smoke pillared from the old bullet cooker as a bandy of black birds sang from the pond’s edge. It was mid-afternoon, mid-summer, and mid-week come to think of it, and all the world seemed on the bustle today, and busy, and hurried to get along. Well, save for yours truly that is. Nay, I had other plans this afternoon. To smoke up a rack of ribs, for one, and also some chicken wings to take to some friends who could use a good meal these days. A BBQ care package, I guess you could say. People just like barbecue.
Something For Everyone
Barbecue. Have you noticed ever when you go into a BBQ joint that there is just something in the air, something besides the most succulent aromas known to mortal man. That’s right. There is an abiding sort of gastronomic appreciation there. A universal reverence almost, for what is smokey and good. A joy for BBQ scattered in unbiased fashion across the social cross-section. Your class or zip code makes no bearing in BBQ. Doctors and lawyers, I suspect love BBQ. So do teachers and garbage men. Clergymen and atheists. Pig farmers and even vegetarians, I bet, tho they won’t eat it, deep down admire BBQ. Even people from Iowa! Indeed, black, yellow, white or brown, your skin matters not in BBQ. Every one is free to tarry on it’s savory shores.
That’s the beautiful part about good BBQ. People from many walks of life coming together in food and fellowship. No matter who you are, or where you’re from, if the BBQ is good, you will gladly slurp it off a paper plate, and wipe your face with your sleeve.Whether you’re a grease monkey from Queens, or the Queen of England herself, everybody is equal where fine smoked meat is concerned. And say what you will on this, but that is no small thing. For BBQ is oft times regarded as a fickle, and snobbish pursuit. One of the most opinionated subjects in the free world, just behind politics and religion. Yet, and somehow, we all come together in fellowship for some good BBQ.
It’s a childish notion, I know, but what if all the leaders of a world gone mad, conspired together for lunch some day, and had BBQ. All sitting around a big table, with make-shift, paper towel bibs, and tall drinks at hand. Communing and dining on perfectly executed BBQ. I bet they’d be in a pretty good mood for the most part. Well as good a mood as you can be, I suppose, being a world leader and all. There’s just something about BBQ that makes it all okay.
And so they would eat and feast and look around the table at each other, everybody sporting a little BBQ sauce wayward on their face, and a pleasant, satisfied feeling deep in their bellies. For a while at least, and maybe even longer than that, I hope they would notice that it’s not all bad having lunch together. That if they can get along well enough for an hour or so, maybe they can do it some more, and maybe even become friends, with a plate of good food in front of them. Childish notions for sure, but hark, the working model of this, of course, has already been perfected -a little something your local BBQ shack has known for many years. BBQ brings people together.
A Time to Share
As the mallards milled about on the pond’s edge, and the breeze mingled sweetly in the trees, I glazed up the wings with some more Blackberry BBQ Sauce, from the kindly folks at Joe Joe’s Hog Shack. On the other pit, the ribs had just come out of the foil, highly pampered there in brown sugar, butter, and a squirt of honey. Smoked with pecan wood. Oh buddy! They were almost, but not quite, falling off the bone. Time to deliver these spoils for whom they were intended! And time to make time, for what is good. And what is right.Barbecue may never save the world, but I’ll tell you this, it sure is a better tasting place because of it. And that’s a start at least. Amen.
There are many ways to light your fire, to kindle your coals. You can douse them in lighter fluid, or use an electric starter, or favor them with the business end of a blow torch; or I suppose, all of the above at once, provided you have sufficient medical coverage. Our favorite tho, by and by, has to be the humble charcoal chimney. Clever little things, obviously spawned from the brain pan of an efficient thinker. All it takes is three pages of your local newspaper crumpled into as many balls, some charcoal, and a single match.
To the uninitiated, it would be presumed it doesn’t matter what sort of paper to burn. Well, it doesn’t really, but let it be said, the joy is rather abiding, if not dubious, watching the political section go up in flames. It feels good, and I ever so do recommend it. As does the junk mail you never asked for anyways. Oh yes, you can use any matter of scrap or paper you’d like to light your charcoal chimney, but it is not nearly as much fun, nor therapeutic, as those unruly prints you so despise. Burn accordingly.
Thus, pack the bottom of the chimney with your chosen burnables, and dump in your coals. Then what pleasure it is to lay a flame to paper, and watch the heavy gray smoke curl into the sky. Such moments are never with out giddiness, for that thick smoke rising, it signals to yourself, and who ever is looking, that yet another outdoor cook is officially in session. Like hoisting a self-dissipating flag of BBQ, aptly woven in soft tendrils of smoke; and the neighbors all take note. And so do you. Another masterpiece in grilling excellence, or, barring that, another fall of man’s glorious ideal, tween the grates, and into the flame. Reduced to charred rubble and inedible tatter. Regardless, when your chimney is a’blaze, it is your time now, to relish. Like the engines revving at Indy, or the national anthem praised through a stadium; the games are about to begin, and our spirits climb, every time we go out to the pit and light the coals there.