that I’m thankful for. This doesn’t usually happen to me on a regular basis, except on Thanksgiving Day. It most often happens when were all seated at the table saying what we’re all thankful for as part of grace. Like everyone else I’m
focused on feasting on turkey and a number of other foods that are all very fattening - as there is no shortage of butter here in Louisiana. It’s the only day annually where another meat trumps barbecued pork for me. And the all pro football games are always on my mind on Thanksgiving Day as well. (The Detroit Lions every year….really?)
The things I’m most thankful for first and foremostare are my family and friends. However, I thought I could also be
thankful for barbecue. This has been a bittersweet year for me personally, and my passion for barbecue has helped carry me through. Everyone needs a hobby to take them away from the realities of our world for a little while; away from the tough days, disappointments, frustrations, or the need for individual space. Or what I like to call “sanctuary”. Hobbies are often more than just something we do for enjoyment. They can be therapeutic as well.
The first barbecue thing I’m thankful for is all my friends on the competition barbecue circuit, and the new ones I’ve made this year. You’ve heard me say, and very person that you encounter who is involved in barbecue, how great barbecue people are. From the cooks, to the judges, to the staff of events, everyone is friendly and genuine. Spending a few days on the weekend with barbecue people provides me an opportunity to sample and discuss barbecue with people as fanatical about it as I am. The other major benefit is that it recharges my batteries for the upcoming week; giving me the “sanctuary”that I may times need.
The next barbecue thing that I’m thankful for is my cooking partner Troy and the opportunity to compete in my first professional barbecue contest this year. We cooked in a KCBS contest in Slidell, LA and thankfully didn’t destroy our
friendship. Actually, we achieved all our objectives: turned in entries in all four categories without getting a
disqualification, validated our cooking plan, didn’t finish in last place, and had fun. (Last place was our biggest fear.) We’ve wanted to cook log before this year, but the timing hadn’t been right. This event motivated us to continue competing and to keep feeding our passion.
Another barbecue thing that I’m thankful for is the opportunity to become a Memphis Barbecue Network (MBN) certified judge. This was another undertaking that I’d wanted to do for a long time, but again the timing wasn’t right previously. At the training class in June I received some excellent training and made some new barbecue friends. Then I judged two contests before the end of the barbecue season and thoroughly enjoyed them both. Judging MBN had a profound significance on my barbecue ”universe” as I believe pork shoulderhas replaced pork ribs as my favorite barbecued meat. This is something that anyone who knows me never though would ever happen, as ribs has been my favorite since the first time I tasted true barbecue almost two decades ago. However, the shoulder I had at the two
contests totally blew my mind, and taste buds. It was so tender, flavorful, and succulent beyond description. You
just had to be there!
The final barbecue thing I’m thankful for is all the new barbecue sauces I’ve tried in 2011 and before. From prior blogs you know that one of my barbecue “confidentialities” is my loved of trying new barbecue sauces. While I love meat with just a dry rub too, a conservative amount of barbecue sauce applied to meat to lend additional flavor is heaven to me. (Barbecue meat should never be drowned in sauce so you lose the wonderful smoky meat taste.) Over the years I’ve tried almost 100 barbecue sauces, from the large, well-known barbecue establishments and companies to smaller local establishments and companies. I’ve tried Kansas City-style sauces, Memphis-style sauces, North and South Carolina-style sauces, Texas-style sauces, famous chef’s sauces, some that were very unique, and some that were very traditional. Tasting each new sauce is a new step on my barbecue journey. The one thing I’ve found in sampling the sauces is that you can always be surprised. Often a larger company’s sauce isn’t as good as you’d expect, and conversely, a smaller company’s sauce is much better than you’d expect. Also, just because a sauce comes from a state that is traditionally not known for barbecue, like Ohio or Maine, that doesn’t mean that it can’t be very good or great. The mystery of a possibly being surprised and tasting a new version of something I love, that’s what makes experimenting with new sauces so much fun!
If you think about it, there are probably a number of barbecue things that you are thankful for too. And there is nothing wrong with that. Probably because Sigmund Feud isn’t around to witness today’s barbecue obsession in America.
Where there's smoke, there's probably barbecue!