Oh. My. God. Barbecue

Last night S and I went to a barbecue at the home of a guy he knows. This guy, M, is from Texas, as is his fiancée, V, and they take their ‘cue mighty seriously. We’d been invited once or twice before but this was the first time we made it there; boy have we been missing something special.

When we arrived the cookers were already working hard in the backyard: tucked into the smoker was a 10-lb brisket, which had been going since 8 AM (and sucking up a dry rub of red, black, and white pepper, onion and garlic powder, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce for eight hours before that); on a pair of large twin gas grills were ribs by the dozen, which had been treated to a similar rub.

V had proven herself an admirable—even enviable—fiancée by driving all the way to Delaware to surprise her future husband with a keg of his favorite beer, Shiner Bock, brewed in Shiner, Texas and unavailable up here. I’m not a beer drinker but S has been known to enjoy a cold one, so he pumped himself a red plastic cup and we settled in, inhaling that absolutely hypnotic aroma and trying to ignore the growls of our stomachs. After a while it was hard to make conversation cuz the damn place smelled so good—it was all I could do not to lunge into the smoker and grab off a hunk of meat with my bare hands. And when M cleared space on a grill for the Elgin sausage, which he’d brought back on a plane from Texas…well, I almost cried.

After we’d been there for about half an hour, a light rain started to fall. Within another twenty minutes it was a full downpour, complete with thunder and lightning. Marvelous hosts that they are, M and V remained outside, tending the grills, while most of us ducked into their apartment to stay dry. But once the food was ready, that rain couldn’t have held me back if it was made of steel. They served outside since their apartment wasn’t built for fifty or sixty people, and we huddled under umbrellas, juggling Chinet plates and plastic silverware, wolfing down unbelievably tender brisket doused in M’s homemade barbecue sauce—Ancho Shiner or Chipotle Grapefruit—cutting off hunks of spicy sausage, and finally tearing into meaty ribs with our teeth, greasy fingers (and faces) be damned. Uh, Weight Watchers be damned, too, for that matter, when you’re talking ‘cue this good…

M tells us he’s planning to have another session in about six weeks. I can hardly wait.

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