What’s in the Box
By Bill Jones, MABA Board Member and KCBS Master Judge, Table Captain, & Life Member
My wife and I have this discussion every so often and it goes like this – “Do you want Mexican or Chinese food for supper?”
“Sure” I say. And off to our favorite location we go. The owners greet us and will sometime make the comment “You’re back again for dinner?”
My wife will ask “Did you come for lunch here?” Yes. “Then why did you not tell me that?”
I am quite okay having Mexican twice in one day. She just does not get it. So now I tell her – “Italians eat Italian three times a day, Mexicans eat Mexican three times a day, Chinese eat Chinese three times a day…so why can’t I do the same?” And the same goes for BBQ. I have eaten BBQ for lunch AND dinner many times!
Note – she also has this very strongly followed rule. She does eat Mexican or Chinese at a place unless someone we know has eaten there before us and survived! Seems a simple, yet weird little rule. Wish I had followed it at a contest in Westmont, IL this year. That was some awful Mexican food.
As a judge we have some time to sit and talk about the foods we like. Many judges crave ice cream after judging. I am not a major fan of ice cream, it’s just not something I seek out. I do want a Mt. Dew for the ride home and usually get some Chicken Lo Mein from my local favorite Chinese place. No idea why that’s what comes to mind.
Some cook teams also crave certain foods following a cook. I have yet to hear any wanting barbecue though. Not their own, nor anyone elses. I am in the same boat. Every fall we do what we call a Stew N’ Que at our home. About 75 – 100 people are invited and by the time I am done cooking a cast iron pot of Brunswick Stew and 80 pounds of barbecue, I seldom eat any of it. Oh I taste test along the way, so maybe I get filled up on that. But I usually find myself hungry later that evening for anything except barbecue or stew.
Many of our trips to far away lands like North Carolina or Maryland…okay just kidding about that…but when we do travel, we seek out local establishments of the best barbecue in town and then a Mom and Pop restaurant, non chain. We have found some great restaurants in our travels, and some not-so-great ones too. Just like barbecue boxes we judge, you get some great and then some-not-so great.
We see teams and judges doing similar, checking out local establishments. Newbie judges will sometimes ask how I pick the contests I go to. It really has little to do with the contest as much as it does with what’s nearby? Chesapeake, VA contest – County Grill and Smoke House on the ride there the night before and Harpoon Larrys on ride home. Note – I table captain this event because I want to eat at these two places. Tupeolo, MS – Kermets Outlaw Kitchen. BelAir MD – Box Hill Pizzeria crab cakes, yes crab cakes at a pizza joint. Lanexa – Walkers Dam Grill – how can a campground have such a great Italian place? Don’t get me wrong, the contest organizers or the reps also have a lot to do with where I pick to judge. But outside of the barbecue, the local food is what I also seek out. Something out of the way, different, unexpected.
Hope to see you out on the circuit in 2017 trying new places.
‘Til next time,