Food Isn’t Always BBQ, but BBQ is Always Food

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comIt isn’t a piece of equipment.

It isn’t a verb.

And, it certainly isn’t an event.

Barbecue is barbecue. Barbecue is a type of food – nothing more, nothing less. I don’t understand why that is so hard for people to understand.

Sunday afternoon I watched a segment on a television shopping network for a few minutes. They were selling mail-order barbecue.

It certainly looked succulent as they zoomed the camera in for an extreme close-up of the moist, steaming shreds of pulled pork and the golden glaze of the rich, sweet sauce.

I drooled like one of Pavlov’s dogs as they continued to describe it with adjectives that almost made me blush.

Then, the host tasted it and proceeded to convulse like it was his first bite of food after being lost at sea clinging to a styrofoam cooler for 2 months.

I know how he felt, though. Good barbecue can do that to someone.

And then, right on cue, he did exactly what I knew he was going to do.

He started referring to the apparatus that cooks the barbecue as a barbecue.

The apparatus that cooks the barbecue is big and black, holds hickory, and has a little smoke stack where the smoke escapes and teases everyone in the neighborhood.

It’s called a smoker. It is not called a barbecue.

I know what you’re thinking, and yes, I remember that restaurant commercial a few years ago where the Australian guy said “throw a shrimp on the barbie.”

It may be a barbecue in the land down under, but here in the good ol’ US of A, it’s a smoker.

Then the barbecue TV show man predictably started using barbecue as a verb, such as, “I barbecued yesterday.”

No, you didn’t barbecue. If you actually prepared barbecue, you smoked. If you cooked anything else outside, you grilled.

Occasionally I can forgive something like, “I barbecued chicken yesterday,” but still we should use it sparingly.

Just like all good three-point sermons, let me get to the crescendo:

Do not – whatever you do – under any circumstances ever go to an event called a barbecue.

It could be a trick. It’s probably the way the English tricked Joan of Arc.

Answer this: what is the event called where your friends grill hamburgers and invite you over? What do they call it?

They don’t call it a hamburger.

Would you ever go to an event called “a hamburger” — or “a pizza,” or “a chili” for that matter?”

“We’re hosting a hamburger on Saturday. We would love you to join us.”

How silly does that sound? It makes it sound like the food is the guest of honor. Should I bring some sesame seeds as a gift?

Brothers and sisters, barbecue is slow-smoked meat – usually pork shoulder – that is cooked until it can be easily shredded with a fork. When done correctly, it is one of the most delectable tastes on earth.

Dont’ get me started on sauces, because that debate could rage on forever. Whether they’re based with ketchup, mustard or vinegar, they all have their merits, and they all accentuate the barbecue in their own unique way.

I’m not even sure which is my favorite.

I am sure of his, however: I sure wish I would’ve ordered a couple of pounds while that show was on instead of calling the grammar police.

Calhoun’s

good grub logoCalhoun’s is a long-time favorite Tennessee barbecue restaurant for good reason:

You’ll almost always get a good meal there.

Calhoun’s has seven locations in East Tennessee, including four in Knoxville. The most unique, however, is the location in Lenoir City on Ft. Loudon Lake. Weather permitting, this Calhoun’s features a covered outside dining area at the water’s edge. It’s fun to watch the boats come in to the dock.

Calhoun's on Ft. Loudon Lake in Lenoir City, Tennessee. (image via calhouns.com)

Calhoun’s on Ft. Loudon Lake in Lenoir City, Tennessee. (image via calhouns.com)

Many of Calhoun’s dishes are a party for your taste buds. But you may be surprised which dishes taste best.

The pulled pork and the ribs are both good — real good. However, there are lots of barbecue places around; and Calhoun’s pork doesn’t necessarily stand out.

A pleasant surprise on Calhoun’s menu is the Bar-B-Que Steak Calhoun. It’s served with Calhoun’s own barbecue sauce. The hickory smoked prime rib is special, as well. In short, the beef is better than the pork.

One of the most incredible tastes on planet earth, however, is Calhoun’s cheddar cheese salad dressing. When you go, get a salad and get this dressing. They should not even serve another dressing variety. Another favorite — and Calhoun’s original — is the Spinach Maria, which is served as a side dish. It’s loaded with cheese and spices. Both dishes are delectable. Their cornbread is incomparable, as well.

Make sure to wash it all down with one of Calhoun’s craft beers. They make good food taste even better.

Bottom line: consistently satisfying food and drinks in a fun atmosphere — a good value.

Visit the Calhoun’s web site. Make sure to see a menu.

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