BUBBA’S BBQ JOINT—As you search vainly for a menu, finally asking the belching busboy for help, you discover “there ain’t one, Bub,” as he delicately points with a hangnailed index finger (the other fingers on that hand are missing) toward a chalkboard of “Daily Specialz.” You think you’ll have the “Briskit of Beef, Ribs, Friys, Whit Bread and Sauce,” since that’s all there is. As you begin to order, a greasy hand wipes off the “Friys” (they just ran out), but he quickly writes in “Tater Totts” as a substitute.
LE BARBEQUE RESTAURANT—A white-gloved hand appears from nowhere and hands you a leather and velvet menu folder, engraved with the name of the restaurant in 24-karat gold leaf. Inside, a parchment manuscript adorned with perfect calligraphy announces the soup, salads, entrees, vegetables, starches, and desserts. But only your menu has prices-the menu given to the lady has small violets where the price should be. It takes you twenty minutes to read the 164 items, and you haven’t even looked at the “Chef’s Choices” page inserted in the middle of the 16-page folder.
BUBBA’S BBQ JOINT—You watch in awe and trepidation as the chef—excuse me, pitman—grabs a handful of tater tots directly out of a fry basket still dripping with hot lard, throws on half a loaf of bread from the Wonder wrapper, and adds a half handful of pickle slices. The food arrives at last, plunked down on a piece of butcher paper. A massive pile of pork ribs and a Volkswagen-sized hunk of black-as-a-meteor beef sit steaming under the waving flypaper strands. When you ask where you can find some BBQ, sauce he mumbles “what ya kiddin, it’s on da table already!” You quickly retrieve the sauce from the garbage can where you had heaved it, thinking it was a leftover, unfinished bottle of very cheap beer. The beers you ordered are still in a six-pack, with a rusty opener wired to the cardboard handle.
LE BARBEQUE RESTAURANT—After deciding on the Barbeque Kobe Beef (flown in that day from Nagasaki, Japan), Grilled Foie Gras from Provence, Smoked Pork Riblets from New Zealand, “Patates Frites de Belgique,” and the Moet de Chandon Sauce Barbeque (vintage 1954), you watch as the food is delivered on Louis XIV sterling silver platters by a platoon of waitpersons. In perfect unison, the plates are placed in front of each diner and the warming lids lifted with the precision of a symphony orchestra. One elegant lady dressed in a gown better than your wife’s wedding dress glides up to the table with a golden plate adorned with imported French cornichons and slips it between the champagne glasses.
BUBBA’S BBQ JOINT—There is no conversation at the table now. Guttural grunts, moans, sighs, lip smacks and the sound of ripping flesh obliterate even the Grandpa Jones, Roy Acuff, and Ferlin Husky records playing on the jukebox. Flying fingers grab ribs, and hunks of brisket, slopping brick-red sauce onto white bread, and using the sopping mass to fashion gooey sandwiches. Rib bones fly like drumsticks at a Buddy Rich drum concert. Gurgles of beer, slurps of sauce, appropriate (and inappropriate) body cavity sounds bounce off the grease-stained walls as four crazed barbecue fanatics go at it full bore. Finally, as the food vanishes into sauce-stained mouths, an eerie quiet ensues. Now only faint sighs and the sound of Wetnaps being released from foil packages mar the otherwise silent room. The paltry bill is paid with pocket change. The fan has finally died, Ferlin Husky has faded into the night and peace has settled in at Bubba’s.
LE BARBEQUE RESTAURANT—After finding a dried rib and a piteous quarter inch of fibrous meat under a two-inch-thick layer of tepid, tasteless sauce, and after what seemed an hour masticating a tiny, immolated morsel of beef (or was it snow tire?) was painfully swallowed, the limpid fried potatoes swimming in precious oils and vintage Belgian mayonnaise were sadly pushed aside. The “Barbeque Extraordinaire” that you were conned into ordering mercifully ends as the entire plate of pickles (excuse me, cornichons) is frantically gobbled up as the only really edible food item on the table. Oh yes-the water was okay, except for the damnable lemon-in-netting floating between the Greenland Glacier ice cubes. Groans, growls and gnashing of teeth follow as the itemized bill, the computation of which would tax a mainframe computer and which totaled slightly less than the latest contract for a fully-loaded Boeing 777, was delivered by yet another gloved hand holding yet another gilded platter. As the orchestra packs up to leave, the chandelier dims, the rose petals flutter to floor and our still-ravenous dinner party votes unanimously to adjourn to another local eatery…
A new Que joint down the street someone suggested…Bubba’s!
The moral of these stories: fancy names, white linen and astronomical prices do not good BBQ guarantee.
Rather savor and relish the wise pitmaster’s expenditure of money, passion and time on the quality of the Que itself.
Leave the tables to Formica, the floors to Linoleum, and the dinnerware to Chinette.
The BBQ belongs to Bubba !