In the course of getting married, Cara brought up the subject of wedding gifts for each other. I’m sure most men out there could spend a good half an hour ranting about this need women have to exchange gifts for every occasion, and often multiple times for the same occasion. This can get particularly crazy when the Wedding Industrial Complex is involved. Many a man might even think of saying, “Isn’t getting married to me gift enough?”
It was time again for me to host the annual company barbecue. That meant 30 or more people coming over to the apartment in Brooklyn. That meant pounds and pound of meat. It meant bags and bags of charcoal. It meant hours and hours of work.
All of which is to say I was excited! And agitated. And nervous. A lot could go wrong, starting with the annual prediction of 60% chance of rain. I have a back yard just big enough for 30-some-odd people. I have an apartment that is smaller than the back yard. So, you do the math. But the chance of rain diminished throughout the week until the weather on the day of the actual event looked like it was supposed to be sunshine and lollipops. The day of cooking, on the other hand, looked to be a steady fall of rain.
Oh, yes. This is a two-day cooking affair. Three days if you include shopping. But it was all under control. I’ve done this before. Even if I haven’t mastered my brisket (shut up) just yet, I have the process down to a science.
If there’s one thing I like almost as much as stuffing my face full of smoked brisket, it’s barbecuing it myself.
Okay, that is a lie. Barbecuing brisket — and pork shoulder for that matter — is one of those things I really, really look forward to doing. And I maintain the kid-on-Christmas-morning glee until one of the following
- The shopping trip turns into a shit-show of an obstacle course
- The weather decides not to cooperate
- Five hours into the proceeding and I’m just trying to stay awake
- When the food is served and everybody’s all, “THIS IS AWESOME” and I’m thinking “This is shit. It’s crap. It doesn’t taste like Black’s or Franklin’s or Hill Country or Brisketlab. AND OH MY GOD, DID YOU JUST PUT SAUCE ON THAT?!?!”
But this last barbecue? It was going to be different. Because I’d learned something while in Texas with Nick on our Fabulous Brisket Tour. And it was game-changing.
When I told folks that my son Nick and I were going to Texas to eat barbecue and nothing but barbecue, they thought I was joking. Some of them even went so far as to offer suggestions for non-barbecue food–like seafood and duck enchiladas (whatever those might be).
I was not joking. In fact, between pulling into Lockhart on a Tuesday afternoon and leaving on Friday, we ate nothing but brisket and ribs, half a sausage, one piece of barbecue turkey and candy. Thursday at 1 p.m, we had tacos. Thursday evening, we went back to barbecue. We weren’t there to goof around.