To me, the words Peace, Love & Barbecue conjure up visions of some old BBQ joint located somewhere outside of Austin Texas. It’s funky, hard to find and possibly – slightly illegal. At this joint licenses and permits run a distant second and third to the preparing and serving of great BBQ.
The pit is handmade. No big commercial smokers for this place. They use hickory, apple, pecan, cherry. Whatever’s the cheapest – that’s what they buy. They’d rather take the money they’d spend on wood and spend it on high quality meats. Nothing against Sam’s or Costco, but you won’t see these folks shopping for brisket there. They seem to have their own secret butcher. If you ask where they get their meat, they say “Cows, pigs, and chickens.”
The menu is small, hand written each day and thumb-tacked to the wall. Similar to Louis Mueller’s in Taylor. The chairs and tables don’t match. Silverware is optional. And as for napkins? Here’s a roll of paper towels. Enjoy your meal.
This joint boasts of having the coldest beer and soda in the State. And who would argue. Because there’s just no arguing in a BBQ joint. Everybody’s too happy to gripe, complain or quarrel about anything.
There are many places like this scattered all over America. These little jewels, where profit is secondary to seeing the look on your face when you chomp down on one gargantuan beef rib or sink your teeth into a pulled pork sandwich piled higher than a Stetson hat.
Like I said, at these wonderful, out of the way places, Peace, Love and Barbecue are served up American style. Hot. Fast. And friendly. They do things the way they used to be done. Low and slow and a little bit sassy. Staying up all night, if necessary,so that your food comes right from the pit instead out of a warming box or steam table. Heck, they may only be open for lunch or on Saturday’s only. The owners of these little slices of Heaven have full time jobs. Their BBQ joint? Well, that’s pure love. Are you getting hungry yet?
At this BBQ joint their motto or mission statement is “ Food & Family First.” And to me, this is the essence of real Barbecue. Friends and family gathered around a picnic table. The aroma from the smoker sweetening the backyard air. There’s an abundance of smiles, hugs, peace and love. At this table everyone is welcome. No one gets turned away and they never run out of food or fun.
Sound crazy? Utopian? Nutty? Not to me. To me, this is Barbecue Heaven.
I have a motto… Family First! Nothing trumps family. Moms, Dads, Brothers and Sisters, Aunts, Uncles and Cousins. Friends and neighbors. Barbecue Heaven. The kind of life and lifestyle that makes America great.
Now you might say I’m just a patriotic, flag waving, rib eatin’, old fool. And you’d be right. This is what’s missing in our world these days. In my humble opinion of course.
In far too may communities and households today, family members are scattered to the wind. Every body is busy, busy, busy. The Sunday morning kid’s soccer match has replaced Sunday morning church. And trying to round up the family for a backyard barbecue takes longer than cooking up a slab of Baby Backs.
Instead of talking, we’re texting. And it’s not uncommon to see entire families sitting around the dinner table locked in self-imposed isolation by their own individual mobile devices, rather than sharing experiences and stories that would and should be handed down from generation to generation.
But fortunately that’s where BBQ saves the day. Barbecue, aside from delicious, is also messy. It’s meant to be eaten with your hands. Can you imagine anyone chowing down with a well-sauced rib in one hand and texting on their mobile phone with the other? Okay, I can too. But that’s the besides the point. Barbecue is meant to be savored over conversation with family and friends. And even the occasional stranger.
I’ll bet you didn’t know that Barbecue is the ultimate street food. You can smell the smoke and neighbors come running from down the street. All carrying big smiles and healthy appetites. Barbecue is a natural binder. It binds people together in a way no other cuisine even comes close, except “maybe” Italian.
But arguments can erupt at an Italian dinner table. I’ve seen it with my own eyes. My mother was Italian. I’m half Italian and after enough pasta and wine anything goes. But have you ever seen a real argument during a barbecue feast? The only disagreements at a real barbecue or BBQ joint is whether one likes their Q with, or without. Sauce, that is.
I have a dream. That someday I’m President and our country’s in a heated squabble with Russia over Cuba. I invite Valdimir Putin over to the White House for a one on one conversation. I carefully plan a dinner of ribs, brisket, pork and chicken. (Hey, I’m the President. I can order whatever I want and people make it happen.) I have the National Guard round up Mike Mills and Myron Mixon to do the cooking. There’s lots of food and plenty of icy cold beer and, of course, lots of just about frozen Russian Vodka. Now I ask you. Who leaves the room with the political victory? I do, naturally. Because just as there’s no crying in baseball, there’s no arguing over barbecue. There’s just a big serving of Peace & Love in Barbecue Heaven.
I don’t know about you, but I can eat foods prepared on a smoker or grill everyday of the week. And I’d rather do the grilling or smoking myself. Too many BBQ joints around my house hire some kid to run the pit. And the food tastes like it. But in the hands of an experienced Pit Master a tough slab of beef get’s served up tender, juicy and unforgettable.
Example of unforgettable. Can you remember the best dish of Sauerbraten you’ve ever had? No! But if you’re a true barbecue fanatic, you can remember the best brisket or ribs you’ve ever had. You can even remember where, what time, the weather, the waiter or waitress’s name and what color socks you were wearing. Barbecue has that effect. Great “Q” is truly unforgettable!!! It’s also, dare I say, heavenly.
Barbecue changes a man. Or woman. Some strange chemical reaction or change takes place the minute I set foot in a BBQ joint. Maybe it’s the smoke. Maybe it’s the anticipation of the meal ahead. Maybe it’s the sight of the Pit Master carving up a brisket or chopping up a big, ol’ pork butt. Maybe it’s the atmosphere. It’s a place where everybody’s happy. My kind of place. Your kind of place, if your reading this.
Peace, Love & Barbecue Heaven. It’s a 3 guys in suits sharing a community table with 4 guys in overalls and trucker hats. It’s young and old. Conservative and Liberal. Saint and Sinner. Sauce and no sauce. All too consumed by their 5 senses to think much about anything except the next bite. And that’s the way it ought to be! Don’t you agree?
Until next time…Stay Blessed. Stay Busy.