My Barbecue Love Story
I teethed on a BBQ rib.
I was born in Kansas City, Missouri, arguably one of the best places to get barbecue in the world. Although my family was only there for a short time before the Army moved my father on to his next assignment, the quantity and quality of BBQ I consumed in utero and in my first formative months made a lifelong impression.
Continuing to have a taste for the good stuff, my family would plan cross-country car trips with entire drive days based around hitting a particular BBQ joint. Back at home, my dad would regularly fire up the backyard grill to make my favorite of meals: RIBS. If it was dark out, I'd hold the flashlight so he could fire-roast each slab of meat to perfection.
I've been lucky enough to travel across the globe, but it was my time in Australia as a college exchange student that really sparked my confidence to begin my quest to become a true grillmaster. I discovered that a barbecue picnic could make any day trip into a memorable adventure. We would load up the vehicle with a cooler of meat and all appropriate side dishes...and it seemed no matter where we went, we could find a coin operated gas grill on which to throw our meat. Do you love grilled meat? I LOVE grilled meat (and vegetables, of course). In the US, community grills are generally charcoal use. This involves sourcing charcoal, carrying, starting charcoal, waiting for the charcoal to be ready to go and then cleaning up charcoal. In Australia, you rolled up to a grill, put in some funny looking coins, and it was time to throw some meat on the grill! Depending on how rare you like your steak, you could be eating just seven minutes later. Those Australians really know how to barbie.
I'm the one in the white sweater, throwing some meat on the coin-operated grill in Australia!
Outside of barbecuing and grilling, I've appreciated my exposure into lots of other cuisines:
In the US, my mom was born in Arkansas and her grandmother taught her all the southern dishes. My father's mother was from Massachusetts and she was a stellar cook in all dishes northern. I have relatives across the country, from California to Mississippi to Rhode Island, and we ALL like to eat. I spent a few summers working in the backcountry of New Mexico and enjoyed local exotic cuisines while learning how to bake in a wood burning oven, as well as honing my campfire cooking skills.
Outside the US, I have found food to be one of the great connectors of people. Sharing a meal can bond people for life. When I couldn't speak the same language as someone, I found we could instead communicate through sharing a spread of dishes. Via food, I can show honor, respect, gratitude, sympathy, and love. The most exciting dishes I had were on a business trip to China and included duck tongue, turtle, and chicken feet. (I am still uncertain as to how to actually eat those chicken feet.)
I love the culinary experience, both in cooking food and eating it. And if it involves ribs...I hope you've made enough to share!
Wishing you good food for your table,