Tuesday, November 21, 2006

A Fork to be Reckoned With

I received an entry today for the bbq essay contest. It's not too late to send in your entry. First prize receives two bottles of The BBQ Guy's genuine prize winning "Original Spice Rub" and "Southern BBQ Rub".

A Fork to be Reckoned With
by Adam Byrd

Next time you are eating at your favorite barbeque joint, take a moment while licking your fingers to observe your fellow barbeque patrons. How are they eating their food? Are they using forks and knives, or are they using their natural abilities? Ever seen a person eat ribs with a fork?

Believe it or not, using a fork to eat a meal was once considered extremely taboo. The 13th and 14th century Turks had been using forks for generations, but were not adopted into Western culture until the 14th century by the Italian elite. Before then, the fork was considered a symbol of Satan, being that the devil himself uses a pitchfork to torture all the sinners’ souls. Even so, people would also say, “Why would I use a fork, when God hath given me hands?” Forks did not appear on dinner tables until the 14th century when the Italian rich began collecting cutlery in silver and gold.

Civilization has come a long way since then, and while we have become more civilized and cultured, there are still some foods that are better eaten with the hands. You could dress up barbeque on white plates, sprinkle sesame seeds on it, and call it haute cuisine. But it is still barbeque, and a rib by any other name would taste just as sweet. Consider the different barbeque foods and how many of them are best eaten with the hands. Pulled pork sandwiches, chicken wings, drumsticks, ribs, and brisket are all hand food. Barbeque brisket slices may not be the best hand food out there, certainly no match for the mighty rib, but if the brisket is done right, the slices are so thin and tender, they can be folded in half and popped right in the mouth. Clean as a whistle.

There is something primal about barbeque, something caveman-like. Eating meat is a carnivorous activity, one in which a person’s incisors and bicuspids are used to tear meat away from the bone. I have heard rib eaters rave about how sweet and tender the meat is, or how finger-licking good the sauce is, but the real treat is the act of gnawing on that bone.

While eating barbeque with a fork may not be considered satanic in modern times, depending on your location, it might be considered taboo. So don’t worry about offending your fellow diner by tearing, slurping, and smacking your lips. Embrace your inner lion and use your paws to eat that meat. If anyone questions your motives, just tell them the devil ain’t got nothin’ on you.

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