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From the Mouth of the River

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From the Mouth of the River

A gift for barbecue doesn't mean you should own your own restaurant

God created charcoal grills so Texicans can sacrifice large chunks of meat by burning it beyond recognition. And barbeque sauce was invented to cover up that burnt meat and make it edible. Barbeque has been a tradition ever since the cave woman forced the cave man to do his cooking outside so as not to stink up the cave with that smell of burnt meat which would attract hungry bears. Which, by the way, was also entertainment for the kids watching dad fight off the hungry beast. Sorta like trying to keep the dog or your brother-in-law away from the grill today.

I am, like all the other Southern cave dwellers from my family’s past, quite fond of meat cooked over an open fire. It is said that if you ever eat barbeque on Beale Street in Memphis, Tennessee the taste will follow you to your grave. In fact, young mothers will rub that sauce on their breast so the first thing a baby tastes is barbeque sauce from Memphis and their children will always come back home. Of course, trying to keep its daddy at arm’s length is sometime a problem.

An old black man used to tell the story that God had some of those scrumptious ribs on Beale Street and liked them so much that it inspired him to create a woman out of a rib so as mankind everywhere would have something just as sweet. Of course, it was also said that old man had been sampling the “sauce” up and down Beale Street all night.

I have always said, that if I had the money, I would put in a smokehouse barbeque right here in Chipmunk Falls so as people here in the great Northwest would know what it was like to have food so good it would make you slap your own Momma if she reached for that last rib. 

Texicans have self implicated themselves as great barbequers and in some cases they might be. But they live too close to Mexico, a country that prides itself in hot peppers, the special ingredient in salsa that sets a white man’s butt to blaze. You can’t toss a white hot coal in your mouth and expect to detect any flavor from it. The same with Mexican salsa. That’s why you won’t find any thing in their medicine cabinet but a comb.
Also, on the east side of Texas is Louisiana, the home of Louisiana Hot Sauce which is to be eaten on everything. However, in Louisiana’s defense, because of the heat and humidity, road kill possum starts to go bad shortly after its demise and the hot sauce kills any bad taste along with any possibility of side effects that may occur.

Texas, not wanting to be outdone, stands alone in the barbeque sauce world, by including both Mexico and Louisiana as ingredients in their attempt to make a special sauce. It’s one that will remove hair, paint, and tattoos from anywhere on the body. Texans are under the impression that if you can actually taste the sauce, it’s not hot enough. Any chef worth their salt will tell you that whatever kind of a dish you create in the kitchen is supposed to have its own flavor, aroma, and taste, not that of its ingredients. Like Texas barbeque sauce, there’s just a hint of something sweet on your tongue before your mouth explodes into flames. And this is nothing compared to their chili cook-offs. Texas law requires that each contestant’s cooking space be a minimum of twenty-five feet apart. That’s enough room for a fire truck to pass between them safely.

But, alas, Chipmunk Falls is not ready for such culinary excitement. We here at the Falls are much more laid back, or, just don’t give a damn. We have five or six different eateries locally, one for every person who wants to go out for lunch. Sometimes two or three will show up at one place, which means no one showed up at one of the other places. It seems everyone in this small town has owned an eatery here at one time or another.

“Hell, I can put out better food than they do. I think I’ll open up a restaurant. How hard can it be?” It usually doesn’t take long to find out.

First they hire a high school girl and tell her, “You are now a waitress. All ya gotta do is put out a glass of water and a menu and take down what they ask for and bring it to me. You’ll make a fortune in tips and we will split everything over minimum wages four ways.”

The first people to enter the establishment will be her school friends, who she will spend a half an hour discussing who is having whose baby, but none of them will order anything but a glass of water. Then if a real customer comes in and leaves without turning in an order or leaving a tip she gets upset because they were interrupting her conversation!

The kitchen is always blocked off from the clients’ view. There’s a reason for this. While you may have stood by your mother’s apron strings and watched her prepare your family dinner, you don’t really want to see the chaos going on in a kitchen that’s trying to prepare eight different meals for six different tables in fifteen minutes. Extend this for two or three hours through the dinner hour and there’s not a kitchen in the country that could pass a health inspection.

The delusion of the grandeur of owning your own restaurant starts to go by the wayside on the first morning you wake up with a hangover and decide you don’t want to open up because you don’t feel up to it. Or the cook shows up drunk, or, worse yet, has run off with the waitress and you’re stuck with all the work and her dad blames you for what’s happened to his little girl. At the very best it’s a problem just to keep a kitchen as well as a dining room clean and presentable at all times. Naturally, the day that everything goes to hell will be the day the health inspector will show up in your kitchen and ask for a clean spoon to test the soup. Of course, you didn’t make soup. That’s a stew pan you have soaking full of dish water and the next morning there’s a for sale sign in the front window.

When we go out to eat in Chipmunk Falls it always depends on what we are interested in having. Do we want to eat where they’re always friendly, laid back, and talking to everyone?  Or where sometimes you have got to wait on yourself or ask if the cook’s up yet just to give ’em a hint you want lunch? Or some place where the cook, waitress, and proprietor may join you at your table for lunch or dinner? Or a hamburger and chili place where you just ask for catsup?

There is one place that just fascinates the hell out of me, though. This fellow cooks outside on an old smoker and by the time that food gets through his small kitchen and to your table it’s fantastic. I had to ear him down and ask where he gets those tender Porterhouse steaks. Turns out, they come from corn-fed beef back in Iowa. Oh sure, they’re a little pricey he says, but if you want good beef with the flavor still in it, ya gotta pay for it. People don’t mind spending big bucks for a lobster from Maine he says, and it’s just a “water bug”!

It doesn’t matter where you eat in Chipmunk Falls because you will always come away full and satisfied. For such a small town there really are some good cooks living there it’s just that not all of’em are cooking at restraints.

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Boots Reynolds Boots Reynolds The "internationally-renowned cowboy artist" Boots Reynolds has moved his comedic interpretation of life into the writing field with his regular column in the River Journal - From the Mouth of the River.

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humor, BBQ, Chipmunk Falls, cooking

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