Meditation Via Southern Comfort Food
Barbecue Is Good For The Soul
This morning was rough as I scrambled to commit some overdue changes to a big app project. To regain energy that I lost from staying up late the night before, I drank too much coffee and was feeling as if I was about to have a panic attack. I managed to push the changes a little before noon and got in my car and drove around to clear my head.
As I drove down a side road, I noticed a small Barbecue place with a plywood sign in front advertising some lunch specials. I could smell burning hickory and see white clouds of smoke rising from behind the building. I knew this was the medicine I needed today.
Inside there were only four or five tables with some folding chairs. Near the counter there were plastic trophies and plaques on display from various BBQ contests. The menu was nailed to the wall. As I studied it, a woman emerged from the back room and greeted me warmly. I asked her what I should order and she suggested ribs. I ordered a whole rib dinner with macaroni and cheese, collard greens, and cornbread because I am a bottomless pit when it comes to comfort food.
I was given a cheap bottled water and plastic utensils as I sat down. Looking out of the window I could see the smoke from the BBQ pit behind the tiny restaurant. I knew I was about to eat something good.
The woman returned later with a school cafeteria-style styrofoam plate which contained the beautiful steaming ribs. She waited until I took a bite and quickly asked me what I thought. I told her they were delicious. Satisfied by my response, she went back into the back room.
I somehow managed to finish the giant meal. As I was nearing the end, The woman returned followed by a man in an apron. “How was it?” She asked me, grinning with pride. “These are the best ribs I’ve had in a long time.” I told her, and I meant it. “This is the man that made them, right here.” She said, pointing at the man in the apron. “Glad you liked it.” He said with a big smile. The two looked like parents watching someone admire their newborn child. I could tell they were passionate about their craft.
“Oh my!” the woman exclaimed looking at the aftermath of my meal. “You ate all that food! Let’s get a picture for a before-and-after.” She came over to my table and pulled out her phone. She was smiling bigger than I was as she snapped a picture of me and my demolished plate of ribs. I thanked her for the meal and as I left I felt as if I was leaving from a dinner at a relative or friend’s house.
The best thing about Southern US culture is that the people are raised to take great pride in their work, no matter how simple. Even in today’s fast paced culture, there are still many who are willing to forget their sense of urgency and engage in that old southern hospitality. This was like a calming salve on my over-stressed brain and it made me thankful to live here.