In Maryland, my Maryland I have gone to two “barbecue festivals” in two years, and I don’t think there will be a third.
This year I went to the Southern Maryland Brew and BBQ Festival held at the St Mary’s Fairgrounds. Aside from the usual faire, such as live music, arts and crafts and vendors hawking their wares, there was a professional and amateur barbecue competition. There were about 15 to 20 teams representing various BBQ vendors from many parts of the country (or at least the mid-Atlantic to South).
In my estimation it should not be do damn hard: “I have US legal tender, and there is an ATM within walking distance where I can get more; you have freshly prepared barbecued pork of several different cuts. Shall we make a deal?”
But, noooo! Courtesy of the local/county/state laws involving food vending licensing,here’s how it all went down: the teams in the BBQ competition spent all night Friday and up ’til Saturday afternoon cooking. Saturday from 2-4 p.m. the festival sold a limited amount of tickets (600 from what I understand); for $10 a ticket, you could sample seven different piles of pulled pork from the vendors, then vote on them for the “people’s choice” portion of the competition.
At just after 4:00 p.m. I sidled up to the building where the tasting was held. The judges were just getting ready to leave, and no one seemed eager to dispense any more of the meat. I got a good look at about 20 trays full of pulled pork from the vendors. From what I gathered, no one knew what would happen to the rest of the meat.
For the teams that finished out of the money, this was a waste of a weekend in terms of gas money, man-hours and effort (18 hours of prep work, cooking, and competition prep), and God knows how much meat that could have gone to actual paying customers. For BBQ eaters like myself, this was a great big prick-tease. Everything on all those cooking competition shows is so much bullshit now; very little of the stuff that gets cooked ever gets to an actual paying customer. For the buttonholes who hosted the event, thank you for wasting so much food…like we don’t do that enough in this country.
Someday soon I plan on buying a Crock Pot or some other slow cooker, buying a rack of baby back ribs, and making my own damn ribs. I even have a couple of “recipes:” North Carolina style (kind of) with apple cider vinegar marinade, and samurai style, with teriyaki sauce.
I heard this one outside of a rib joint in Indian head last Saturday:
I was going to put on “Mendocino County Line,” but good God that song was too depressing. Here’s another one from the same record (only one stanza from Merle, Willie? how is that a ‘duet’?):