Wednesday, February 22, 2017
What Makes a Good BBQ Place A Good BBQ Place? This and Other Questions as Old as the Universe.....Sort of.
People are funny.....funny like a train wreck sometimes, but funny none the less. When people hear I have a BBQ Competition Team, they first laugh out loud and then automatically assume one of two things: (1) I know Myron Mixon (2) I'm really good at BBQ. Wrong on both counts; however, I do think Myron gave me a "Roll Tide" when we won our Backyard GC in Elba several years ago. It's a bit like telling people you live in Florida, and they automatically assume you live near Disney or go to the beach every weekend. You get the point. Once the cat is out of the bag on the BBQ, people start asking me questions. Of course, there is the obligatory "When you gonna make me some?" and the ever present, "Where's your favorite BBQ place?" You all know what I mean. Anyway, it got what brain cells I have left rubbing together, and I did start to wonder, "What makes a good BBQ place a good BBQ place?" It then dawned on me that BBQ and BBQ places are a lot like sex: There are many ways to do it, and when done well everyone is happy and ready for a nap. Anyway, let's briefly cover what, in my humble opinion, makes a good BBQ place. First of all, let's do it by exclusion. If you have BBQ along with catfish, tofu, grilled cheese sandwiches, kimchee, pancakes, Pate de Foie Gras, moose lips, sauerkraut, and sushi on the same menu, you might not make the top 10 for me. I've found the places that keep it simple and consistent do the best. You want fancy goose liver served to you buy a guy name Marcel, you wouldn't go down to Ace Hardware would you? Same principle. Good 'Q' is practiced and mastered....not dabbled. Next, you've got to have the right atmosphere and by atmosphere I mean you have to smell like BBQ when you leave. I was in a BBQ restaurant one time and the lady behind me was complaining of all the smoke smell. Really? You come to a BBQ place and complain because it smells like...oh I don't know....BBQ? That's like going to Victoria's Secret and complaining about all the ladies unmentionables lying about. It's just wrong. The experience of good BBQ is not just in the taste, you've got to smell it and take that smell home with you. I've also found that really good BBQ places are usually really small, made out of cinder block, and have a sign that says either "Coca-Cola" or "Pepsi" on it. If you want fine dining with fancy table cloths and neon, try Cafe Risque on I-75, and tell them Bobby and Keith sent you....so I hear. If you want good ribs or juicy pork, you go to the block house with the screen door, dirt parking lot, and maybe just maybe if you're lucky a dog sleeping near by. To this point, 231 BBQ has been around as long as I can remember, and it is nothing more than what looks like a mobile home on 231 just north of Midland City with just a few tables with plastic covers, a small menu, and nothing fancy....just good BBQ and really good Brunswick Stew. This isn't to say that larger, commercial places can't do good BBQ, but they are just missing that certain something that goes with an unassuming and humble little place. So I guess it all boils down to where exactly is my favorite BBQ place? Simple: Home. At home, I can have my BBQ, my friends, and my family. We can all be comfortable, share memories, and a good time. No one worries about being to loud, making a mess, or is it too expensive. Heck, I've even got a dog.....a lunatic dog but a dog still. So with that being said, get out there and find those little, out-of-the-way BBQ places, the mom and pop places, the little places in the strip malls (shout out to Uncle Kenny's), and the big chain restaurants, but for the love of it all, get out there and experience the different and delicious BBQ all across the fruited plain. Heck, you might even go up 231 sometime. Anyway, y'all take care and Riley says "hello".