My roommates decided that since the weather was awesome and I was showing warning signs of a mild depression and possible relapse into a chemically induced state, that we should barbecue last night. Now I’m not sure what you guys all think you know about barbecue, but we here in Kansas City take it very, very seriously. If you’re going to do it, you’ve got to do it right. After all, we’re never going to win at football, baseball, or cricket, but we’re never going to be defeated by anyone when it comes to cooking animals on an open flame after covering them in gooey gooey sweetness.
That’s right, Barbecue is an art and science. It’s a tradition that cannot be ignored, and we did it up proper.
The Importance of Barbecue
Firstly, there is nothing insignificant about barbecuing, and I hadn’t realized how much I missed it while I was living a mere 150 miles away down in Springfield, MO for all of those years. Despite all of the horrible things that come from living in a house; mowing, roof repair, giant raging house fires; the one thing you will always miss in an apartment is being able to legit barbecue. Now, I know we can all sneak a hibachi or a George Foreman, and those are nice, but they aren’t barbecue.
True barbecue is more than just the act of grilling food outside. It’s an experience to be enjoyed with everyone you know. You don’t just go out and barbecue, you have a barbecue. It’s a celebration of life, friends, family, beautiful food and beautiful weather. A Barbecue is a party, and it’s there to remind us how awesome, aromatic and flavorful life can really be. A Barbecue is a true testament to the significance of humanity. It is the ultimate way of showing an affinity for life, the ultimate way to cheer someone up.
Most importantly, we get to play with fire.
Barbecue is Responsible for all that is good in life.
Now a layman will tell you good barbecue is all about the meat. An amateur would tell you its about the sauce. Professionals will tell you its about the smoke. A Kansas Citian would never make the mistake of thinking barbecue is made up of any one aspect of it. You see a long time ago, our ancestors discovered that if you cook something over an open flame and flavored it with the sweet delicious flavor of burning wood, you get an amazing food, no matter what it started as. A while later the discovered a secret formula that created a sweet gooey substance that further enhanced the flavor. This amazing discovery eventually became the reason that everyone in the US stopped in Kansas City before traveling west toward their futures as bear food or billionaire gold tycoons. From all of the travelers, we soon grew into a giant megatropolis, and deep in our roots the powerful sounds of Blues would mix the reverberations of the Dixieland coming up the river from New Orleans and the upbeat tempos of the Swing happening higher up in the city.
Legends say that it was a discussion over various wood smoking techniques between bandmates became an intense argument that fractured a swing band into a dozen pieces and gave birth to Bebop. From Bebop all other great forms of music descend, rock, hip hop, honkeytonk. If it uses a drum kit, it owes Bebop its roots. That disagreement over barbecue was responsible for the most important musical development in the history of mankind. I don’t believe I am exaggerating the importance of barbecue nearly enough here.
Barbecue Brings us Together
I defy anyone to feel alone at a barbecue. I am a awkward hermit with social anxieties, and I enjoy a barbecue. I don’t know if it is the magic scent of charcoal and apple wood, or if it is the over abundance of amazing food, but I just don’t feel anxious at a barbecue. I’ve never felt unwelcome either. It’s like the moment the coals are burning, everyone in the area becomes immediate friends. The offering of hickory charred foodstuffs slathered in a mesquite flavored tomato paste that represents a peace accord between people. I suggest we start saying, “Extending the barbecue” instead of “Extending an olive branch.”
It doesn’t matter what the food is, either. Everything tastes awesome when cooked on a grill, and even the most finicky eaters will try something new at a barbecue. In fact, the best thing to do at a barbecue is to try something you’ve never had before. Last night, we had onions hollowed that had been filled with butter, wrapped in foil and then thrown directly into the coals… they were freaking amazing. Vegetable kabobs, twice baked and then grilled potatoes, these are not foods my household generally eats. They are things that are colorful, delicious and tasty, but we ignore them cooking inside because we prefer things like macaroni and cheese. Its a shame.
The weather is getting nicer, and winter has kept a lot of us pinned inside our homes for far too long now. Now is the time to seize the day and spread the joys of the barbecue! Invite over some friends and family. It doesn’t matter what you cook, and it doesn’t really matter how you cook it (as long as you are using Kansas City style barbecue sauce). If you really want to do it up proper, all you have to do is do it with passion, love, friends and family.