I hear it all the time. People, mostly males, bragging on their barbecue. They have secret recipes, secret sauces, secret ways to build a fire and secret wood or charcoal. Wherever the male mystique with the cooking of meats over an open flame came from, it has lasted since lightning set fire to a tree and some unsuspecting animal was cooked.
But I love to hear them brag. Two of my brothers are great cooks. Wallace is, without question, the family go-to guy when it comes to seafood. He can grill it, fry it, bake it or broil it and it all tastes good. He's a silent cook for the most part but clearly his concentration is on the seafood when he’s in charge.
My younger brother, Carl, is the grill master. This one talks the entire time he's cooking. He likes to explain why he has marinated the meat a certain way and the art of cutting meat so that it doesn't get tough. He likes to experiment with different types woods on different meats. He's experimenting now, he told me recently, with using various fruit juices and fresh fruit on meats.
In every family there are men who like to grill. You can't get them in front of a stove and you can't keep them away from a grill.
If you like to grill or if you know someone who likes to grill, show the rest of the community what you're working with by competing in the "Backyard Barbecue" grill-off during Quincyfest Blues and Barbecue. The event will be held May 2 in downtown Quincy on the Courthouse Square. It's always a lot of fun and, in addition to cooking up some great food, the possibility to winning at $1,000 seems mighty tempting if you come in first in the rib, chicken or pork categories. Plus, you have all day to make friends with other barbecuers, go for the bragging rights and probably see people you haven't seen in a long time.
And while you're cooking, tap your feet and clap your hands to some of the best blues around. The music starts at noon, but the real show is the grillers. They give themselves catchy names, decorate their cooking areas and enjoy the music as much as the people.
One group of young men usually arrives shortly after midnight and begins setting up. They claim to arrive so early because the fire has to burn a required, predetermined number of hours before it's ready for the meat. The heat determines how dense the "bark" will be. I was given this secret last year when they gave me a short course on how to make the perfect butt. Their secret was safe with me because cooking a Boston Butt is the last thing I want to do.
I have been asked, “What if you don't like barbecue or the blues?” Don't worry – the Quincyfest committee has taken that into consideration. Downtown Friday night is the answer. For the past few years we've held Latinofest on the Courthouse Square, but the committee decided to expand and make it an international night with foods and entertainment from around the world.
The talent search is on for dancers and singers of all nationalities as well as food vendors. Because Friday night is considered a community night and the intent is to bring all segments of our diverse population together, there is no cost to be a vendor. People in our community will never get to know each other or about other cultures until there is interaction. There is no better way to bring people together other than through food and entertainment.