The last time I was outside of an airport in Texas was December of 1996. I was in a hurry to drive from the Grand Canyon in Arizona to Big Cypress National Preserve in Florida, and Texas was a long state. I saw Highway 10, the mechanic’s shop where my Hyundai was diagnosed but not fixed, and a motel room in San Antonio.
This weekend, however, was a different story. Eleven irreplaceable friends and a reason to celebrate would have been more than enough. But I also went for two jogs along the lake, drank beer outside, was referred to as Ma’am, felt the sun like I won’t feel in Seattle again until next July, had chile rellenos, bought cowboy boots, and began my education in Texas-style BBQ.
Mixed meats—that’s always a good place to start. We had brisket, two kinds of ribs, smoked turkey, and sausage. It was all slow cooked, smokey and tender, then slathered with habanero BBQ sauce. Not too spicy, not too sweet, not too thick, and totally irresistible in a way that made me want to sponge it up with whatever I had on the plate. The meat, the bread, the potato salad, the coleslaw, all candidates to sop sauce.
I will say that next time I’ll use a different strategy for the sides. I’ll skip the beans, potato salad, and green bean casserole and go straight for the coleslaw and pickles. The cold and cleansing vinegar was a nice pause as I moved through my itinerary of meats. And they may have been the only vegetables I ate all weekend.
I still remember how big Texas is from my drive back in '96, and I know I just saw a sliver of it this weekend. But it exceeded my expectations and I will go back. If for nothing else than to continue my education.
Congratulations Todd and Monja! Thanks for everything!