Sunday, September 29, 2013
So I'm sitting here at my computer trying to figure out exactly went wrong and right for Team Grandpas's Pride BBQ at the 2013 Porktoberque. It was a great event with perfect weather. Kerry Farrell of Main Event, LLC did another outstanding job of organizing. I'm not so sure about the one music act that was, and I quote, "A redneck rapper." Let your imagination wonder on that one, but don't let it wonder too far. Anyway, not that we did a horrible job, but we finished 21 out of 29 which statistically is better than we did at Bainbridge. Our showing kind of makes me think this is what the Roman Emperor Nero thought as Rome burned to the Italian ground. You know the mindset, "Wow, things are really going good for us right now...all is well....nothing can stop us!!...never mind the whole town is going up in flames....my violin please." I really thought we would have done better than we actually did....maybe a false sense of reality. This was our first KCBS sanctioned competition which means you get to garnish and decorate the turn-in boxes and there are only 30 minutes between turn in's. Believe it or not, I kind of liked the fast turn around as you get into a groove. We can now figuratively say we have ruptured our pitted fruit on the KCBS tour. Don't tell my mother I said that. She would be disappointed in me. To get this fiery conflagration show started, I thought we stood a really good chance of getting a call out with our yard bird. The chicken was tasty, juicy, had bite-through-skin, and wasn't over seasoned. The shine was blinding. The problem was the judges didn't seem to have the same opinion. "It's a bit dark in here. Brutus, be a good chap and strike a match for us. What could possibly go wrong?" Overall, I thought our ribs were the best we have ever turned in, and in our case they probably were....nice shine, tender without being too tender, pulled back off the tip of the bones, sweet with a hint of spicy. The problem with that is the judges didn't seem to agree with my assessment as we finished 27th out of 30 in ribs and that is with one team not meeting the turn-in time. "Oh Cicero, do you smell something burning? I could swear to Mars I smell something burning." In the one category we usually struggle with, pork, we actually did pretty well with 14th place. Not too bad. The pork was tender, not too seasoned so that you couldn't taste pork, and arranged in a nice manner and not, to quote a dear friend of mine, "a hot mess." "Anyone else smell something burning?.....it's probably nothing. Bring forth the victims.....let loose the lions!!!" Our brisket had a great taste but wasn't up to the tenderness and juicy level I would have liked, but we didn't do horrible with it either. "What a pretty glow in the sky......wonder what could it possibly be Octavious? It's probably just your imagination Emperor, but it is getting a bit warm." All in all, we did have a great time though. I made it a point to not spend the whole time in the little red wagon this time and that made all the difference in the world. I got out and did what I enjoy the most and met some really great people. Mr. Cook of Cook's Portable Smokehouse was there. Mr. Edward Lovette of Poolside BBQ was parked next to us which was great, and Forrest Dilmore of Forrest's Fine Foods was three sites down from us. The folks next to us, Mr. Bentley and his brother were really great and helpful. At 2:00 in the morning, Mr. Bentley was giving me some much needed education on how to prepare a box and what to look for in placement. I really appreciated that. He didn't have to do it, but he was did and I enjoyed chatting with him. Nice folks too. I also got to meet Bobby Langford with Haulin' Butt BBQ. They took RGC and I was happy to see it. A really nice guy. The Frankensmoker Mk. 2.2 was popular as usual with many visitors wanting to see the plywood smoker. I was disappointed in our placing, but was more than satisfied with the time I got to spend with friends old and new. Grandpa's Pride will learn from this one and gear up for the next one. We will be taking our little show on the road to Elba, AL for the Foggy Bottom BBQ Bash in November. I'm looking forward to it already. It is probably our favorite one. So just as Nero played the fiddle while Rome burned to the ground, we too will ignore the bad and throw ourselves into the good and enjoy every moment of it. There were certainly many more good things that came out of Porktoberque than bad. Good folks, good times, perfect Southern Fall weather, and I got me an ear of roasted corn.....which was nice. The fact the Crimson Tide beat Ole' Miss wasn't a bad thing either. The Latin phrase Nos Sugere translates into "We suck" but I think instead of making that the team motto, we will have to find something else. Maybe I'll look and see what is Latin for, "Hey y'all...where are they selling roasted corn?" Y'all take care and Riley says, "Barkus woofus."
Thursday, September 5, 2013
So I'm sitting at the kitchen table doing work on my off day, and it suddenly dawned on me how we can relate BBQ to our birthday. Yes, 44 years ago today this great nation of ours was blessed with my 4 lbs. 13 oz. presence. I'm told I was 17 inches long and can only hope that means my total length from head to toe and not some other arbitrary measurement. If not, somebody has got some explaining to do. Yes, I was a bit early, but have more than made up for my size since then. Today, as I celebrate this great day, it gives me pause to ponder back on my 44 years. 44 is a great number, two even numbers, repeating even numbers, a great caliber in a handgun, Reggie Jackson's number when he played for the New York Yankees, a great test score if you are 44/46, and looks like two sails on a boat. Don't know how that last one matters but it fits so what are you gonna do, you know? I remember when my parents were 44, and that age seemed pretty old to me back then. Today.....not so much. In 44 years, I have been saved, fallen in love, served in the military, graduated from college twice, gotten married, buried two loving grandmothers, seen my parents divorce, served in law enforcement, seen the Cold War end, have lived through 9 presidents, developed friendships and relationships that are still going strong, been called an angel and been called a son of a (fill in blank), felt the euphoria or being so happy and on top of the world that I couldn't stand it and felt the sharp, searing sting of hurt and grief. However, to quote the song, "life's been good to me so far." I couldn't help but think about my time doing BBQ as it relates to my life or anyone's life in general to some degree. Stay with me here as I try to knit a reasonable argument from my cake and ice cream induced delerium. When I first started out with BBQ, I was like an infant and I knew nothing.....less than nothing if I'm honest. I stumbled and fell..........a lot. Over time, I began to crawl then walk. In BBQ, I started to learn from what I had done. I began to learn from my mistakes and build on my successes. I didn't know what I needed to ask, so I just watched everything I could. Soon, I began to grow into a teenager where I started to develop and learn. Like a teenager, I bounced from style to style trying my best to find something that worked, and I often drove those around me crazy. Something I could own and call my own. I had some successes and thought I knew all there was to know. After all, we were backyard grand champions....how hard could it be? When I was a teenager, I just had to have this or that to make me "successful". Just like a teenager or young adult and just like my BBQ. And like most teenagers I'm sure I gave my parents a greater understanding of why some animals eat their young. Thankfully, my parents were loving and didn't bury me in the backyard, and I began to mature a bit and realized I didn't know squat. I also realized I didn't need every new toy or gadget in life to be successful or to make decent BBQ. Just as in life, I thought I knew what I needed to know. Only later did I find out that the true measure of intelligence isn't an I.Q. score or academic achievements, but it was the recognition of what we don't know and that we all continue to learn. Do I still like gadgets and toys? Of course I do. The good part is I now know what the most important things in life are, that and the fact I have a job and can actually buy the cool gadgets out there. In reality, the most important things are family and friends that are good for me, Salvation through Jesus, enjoying the little things in life, slowing down to enjoy the moment, all the great people you get to meet in life (especially those at a BBQ competition) and remembering, "If you're lookin', you ain't cookin'." See folks, BBQ is like a lifespan. We start out screaming and running around like a chicken sans our head, and hopefully we mature into grown adults who realize that low and slow really is a great way to go. Thanks for reading this. I hope I made some sense here as I have waxed philosophically. Forrest Gump said, "Life is like a box of chocolates....you never know what you're gonna get." I agree, but prefer the BBQ side. "Life is like a BBQ competition, you never know what the dang judges are looking for so no matter what, just stick it in the box and go with it." Sounds like life doesn't it? Anyway, who knows if I'll have another 44 years on this giant mudball we call Earth, but if I do, you can bet there will be some laughing and BBQ going on.......probably laughing at my BBQ and me yelling, "Back when I was your age.....!!!" That and trying to figure out if that warm, wet sensation running down my leg is a problem or not. Joy. Y'all take care and Riley says, "Happy birthday!!"