Filling Up My Tummy With BBQ

Filling Up My Tummy With BBQ

I had the opportunity to judge a wide variety of steaks and BBQ specialties at a contest in Memphis, where barbecue is a major part of this city’s lifestyle. The cooks at this contest put their hearts, hands and minds into preparing the foods and it showed in the way the meals tasted.

Before judging the meals I walked around the downtown part of Memphis and I saw street performers who sang, danced and clapped to traditional blues music. This is interesting because many British music legends such as Eric Clapton, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles were heavily influenced by blues music. After a few hours downtown, I returned to Memphis to judge the BBQ.

Start With The Steaks

The competition started with a tasting of different steaks and there were contestants from the United States, the UK, Canada, parts of Africa and from countries in Latin America. One steak I had from an American contestant was interesting in that he served fried steak with creamy avocado-basil salsa, and while I loved the salsa, the steak was a bit bland and was so rare that I wonder if he only grilled it for two minutes as this was a huge steak.

The Canadian contestant served his steak just the way I like it; medium rare with loads of black pepper and minimum salt. He also put a little spicy horseradish sauce on the side instead on top like some restaurants do, which gets me upset.

An UK contestant served a small and thin steak with plenty of flavor but he included no side condiment or side dish such as cheese potatoes. I picked the Canadian contestant as the winner of the steak contest.

BBQ Ribs

Now it was time to judge the BBQ ribs made on fine smokers – once again I judged the same contestants. The American contestant served habanero-lime BBQ ribs and I must say that although I love spicy food, these ribs were out of my comfort level  yet they were delicious.

From the Canadian contestant I sampled Thai flavored ribs that were soaked in coconut milk before rubbed with cardamom, curry powder, ginger, turmeric, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and a little honey. I had a blast with these ribs but somehow they were not that original in my opinion.

Moving on to the ribs from the UK contestant, I had Italian-style ribs which were seasoned with traditional Italian herbs such as thyme, oregano, basil and parsley. This contestant also served fried spaghetti fritters, which tasted good. In the end I chose the American contestant as the winner.

Talking Amongst The Crowd

One thing I loved about judging in the contest and attending the festival in general is talking with the crowd. By this time the winners were chosen and I talked with festival goers who were home cooks themselves.

One cook told me that when she first prepared a plate of BBQ chicken and chunky potato salad for the man who is now her husband on their second date, he started preparing the marriage proposal. That was 40 years ago and judging from his plump belly, he never regretted the proposal.