#13 – Participate in a Competition

I am a competitive son of a bitch.

I just want to throw that out there.  I figure it’ll clear the air for the post that you are about to read.  The reasons for it?  I think I’m going to toss this one at my father.  I love him dearly, but growing up he was never the type to pull punches when it came to beating me into submission via tennis, pool, darts, ping pong, board games, etc..etc..  There is, and I wish I was kidding, a calendar buried in a pile of accumulated crap that is marked with the date and time that I first beat him at ping pong and another with the date that I took him in checkers.  Checkers.  We went to the mattresses over checkers.

Mom loved us.

The competitive bend then proceeded to come to some sort of king-of-the-hill climax when we combined our powers and set out to race sailboats as a team.  I’ll tell you right now that I’m surprised it never came to blows, screw if we were on the same team.  However, the hyper-competitive streak earned us a hell of a reputation on the course, as well as a winning streak that I don’t think has ever been matched in the club.

It was libations while on land with our challengers, but war on the water.  I consider some of the people we raced against as close to me as family (hi, Linda), but we would not hesitate to charge hard at them to force a tack in order to take the lead.  Hell, we smashed into them once, but that’s another story for another day.

So, when I wrote “Participate in a Competition” on my list, I knew this had potential to go horribly wrong.  My friends here and I compete all the time.  Be it board games (so many damn board games), darts, disc golf, trivia contests, or whatever the hell game Dan has invented on the spot to keep everyone occupied.  Generally and genuinely everything is all simple fun and good natured.  Then Memorial Day comes around.

See, we take cooking seriously and every Memorial Day we get set to throw down in a BBQ rib cook-off.  The men of our little group bend their will and skills to producing the best rack of ribs that they possibly can.  It’s a great way to give each other some shit and have a bit of a good food at the same time.

I didn’t win last year.  In fact, I think I placed 3rd or 4th.  To hell. with. that.

The face of a man who has been doing prep since 5:30am.

I’ve been cooking the same general rib recipe for years now.  It gets tweaked every time in some manner, but the method is always the same.  Method is key here, people (another thing I picked up from my Old Man).  I won’t get into the specifics of what I used, the ratio and proportion in which I used them or anything like that, but just believe me when I say that some serious love goes into these things.

And they settled in for a longs summer's nap...

Ssshhh....they're sleeping.

Fast forward an undisclosed amount of time and work later:

The money shot.

I am perfectly comfortable saying that this is the best rack of ribs that I’ve ever made.  Everything just kind of clicked and came together better than I had hoped.  Of course, there were a few missteps along the way, including one mystery ingredient that didn’t work and caused me to toss an entire component and start from scratch.

A table full of delicious.

The competitors and their ladies gathered at Andrew’s place (also site of the brewing) and set to work.  We didn’t get overly fancy in how we judged them, but I’ll tell you that next year we’re seriously thinking about bringing in outside judges and developing a better metric than “I like this one more”.  We’ll have to base it on flavor, texture, appearance, etc.  Why go through all that hassle?  Because we’re just too damn good.  No, really.  Everything that everyone brought was outstanding and well worth eating.

Enjoying the spoils of competition.

At the end of the day, I’m happy to say that I walked away with the first this time.  Though, judging from what others brought to the table I’m really going to have to up my game next year.  Which is why I’m already trying things out, tweaking what needs tweaking and getting set to ground their pathetic loser souls into the dirt under the heel of my over-sized, BBQ-making, ass-kicking boot.

Ahem…I mean, “Good show, chaps! Splendid work!”

#13 – Participate in a Competition:  DONE

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