Question: What’s made of mystery meat and gets people all twitterpated with its unpredictable availability?
Answer: The McRib.
The fact that such a pitiful excuse for a sandwich can generate a following worthy of a Simpson’s parody proves that the combination of fatty pork and tangy barbecue sauce cannot be resisted by mere mortals. Even in its basest form, the mixture of sweet/tangy sauce laid over a background of charred and smoky meat tantalizes the palate.
Importantly, barbecue can claim to be one of the United State’s biggest contributions to cuisine. Sure, it has its cognates across the world, but the barbecue of the (broadly defined) American South expresses the culture of that part of the world. It’s something uniquely American, but not in the annoying “‘Murica!” sense. Instead, it’s one of the amazing things that American culture has produced.
We may outdo ourselves in gun violence and obesity, but at least we have barbecue!
And San Diego’s no slouch in the barbecue department. No sir, not at all. With well over a dozen credible smokehouses in operation, the pitmasters of America’s Finest City better get the mesquite chips smoldering and the dry-rub crusted thick on the racks of spare ribs and cuts of briskets, on the burnt ends and beef ribs, the hot links and pork shoulders. Surely, there’s gotta be a better option than the McRib out there. With barbecue shops from OB to Escondido, from Poway to Bonita and beyond, it’s time to eat them all.
The basic formula for barbecue is simple. First, there’s curing through some kind of dry rub or seasoning blend. Smoking follows. Finally, the application of sauce and the charring on the grill completes the tripartite process for creating barbecues signature tenderness and deep, smoky flavor. All barbecue of record incorporates these elements, though each in unique fashion. There’s more than one way to smoke a rib, that’s for sure, and examining the variations on the theme yields delicious, smoky, porky results laden with barbecue knowledge. Prepare to be schooled on all things BBQ in this upcoming Feast! series.
This one’s for you, McRib. Welcome back. May you be swiftly replaced.