Tuesday, March 1, 2011

IEM Session #15.5

Inhuman Eating Machine official rules and guidelines

(continued from 15.4)

Eating Day: April 29, 2010, yet again

OLD SOUTH- 4115 Concord Blvd, Concord- 2:22pm- $6.50

My gut was seriously taxed, yet I felt I had least one more portion of meat in me before I would be forced to take myself out of the game for a while. Concord is not geographically far from Alamo, but it is a world away from Alamo and its fancy-pants counterparts, San Ramon and Walnut Creek. Concord is full of trashy girls and tweakers and heshers and middle class families dressed without flair. There are plenty of "ethnics" here, too, so the prospects for good bbq here didn't seem as unlikely as in Alamo.

Old South is in an older strip shopping center. In urban settings, you generally don't expect much from eating establishments in strip malls. In the 'burbs, though, strip malls are everywhere, so you're as likely to find interesting grub in a strip mall as in a free standing eatery with "character." In fact, a lot of suburban strip malls are now so old and decrepit, they're starting to become "vintage" themselves. Old South is a clean, orderly place, with dated (not vintage) decor. The proprietors are black folks. They were playing good R&B. The brisket sandwich was the second cheapest I encountered. All of these elements boded well for an "authentic bbq experience," but if this is what authentic bbq entails, you can keep it, because this was some shoddy meat. It was cut too thin. It was more like a Steak-Um than brisket. And it came on a french roll that was far too crusty for this super-thin meat. You couldn't tell where the bread ended and the meat began. Old South's sauce was the hottest I ate during the session. I like my bbq sauce ludicrously spicy, so this should have been sufficient to garner some serious points from me, but with barbecue sauce, you should be able to taste something other than hot- even when the sauce is excruciating. Where was the garlic and paprika? Where was the sweetness?

A few bites into this sandwich and I was stopped in my tracks. I simply could not eat another bite. Beefy daggers were impaling me from within. This lackluster barbecue did nothing to spur me on to conquer my fullness. When I felt what I thought were nascent fecal twinges, I availed myself of Old South's clean, one-person restroom. I was hoping to clear enough space to allow me to finish the sandwich here and maybe even make one more attempt in Concord. I strained as I read an old copy of Jet with Steve Harvey featured on the cover. With Steve's help, I coaxed out roughly one tablespoon of a substance that was the color and consistency of store brand strawberry preserves. This minor seepage did nothing to allay my fullness. In fact, the stress exerted on my exhaust pipe made me feel even more miserable than before I had tried to take care of business. Clearly, I would have to take the Old South sandwich back to Oakland and work on it later.

During my sojourn to Contra Costa, the whitest of white barbecue joints soundly beat a place that seemed as genuine as any spot I might encounter in the depths of East Oakland or Memphis. This incident is proof that great barbecue is not the provenance of any race or class. It can be produced by anybody with the love of the meat. The most translucent of Caucasians is capable of making great barbecue if he has a mind to do so. Conversely, a bbq shop in the ghetto is not afforded any advantage in the game. If they do a half-assed job, people will know about it. There is no affirmative action when it comes to smoked meat. Rosa Parks did not move from the back of the bus so she could eat second-rate barbecue.