As you know, Nancy and I host a big party on Independence Day every year to celebrate the birth of our country. The centerpiece of the party is the Best Barbecue in the World, made so by cooking pork butts over direct heat on two Weber grills for nine or so hours so that the pork fat drips onto the coals and creates pork fat smoke, which blends with hickory smoke to perfume the meat. The meat is then pulled, chopped, and graced with Ollie’s Barbecue Sauce, the Best Barbecue Sauce in the World.
To find out exactly how you, too, can make the Best Barbecue in the World, just click here. July 4 this year was a rainy day in DC, but here are a couple of pictures.
For more barbecue photos, search “July 4”.
The barbecue is supplemented by delicious dishes brought by our guests. We make no effort to organize the side dishes. Sometimes close to 70 people come, and that would be a lot of organizing. Newcomers always ask what they should bring, and I say, “Bring something you’re proud of.” And on Independence Day they show they have a right to be proud. And this year, (drum roll), Mike (my son-in-law, Michael E. Boyd) brought a brisket.
Liza got Mike a Big Green Egg for Christmas. She says it was a self-interested gift, but Mike loves it and makes excellent use of it. I’ve mentioned his initial efforts, but haven’t yet reported that he has truly mastered the smoked chicken, something that is a lot harder than you might think. And he now felt ready to bring a brisket to a discerning, demanding crowd.
There is is.
It was really good. I mean really good. The brisket had a delicious bark, a good smoke flavor, and it was moist and tender. All of the brisket was devoured, and even Doug Jacobson, the World Famous Kansas City Barbecue Maven, gave it an enthusiastic thumbs up.
And what could be more appropriate to Independence Day, a celebration of a new birth of freedom, than a new birth of barbecue in Washington, the seat of the new nation? Barbecue guru Jim Shahin has an article about barbecue and US presidents. You should read it. It notes the role of barbecues in the careers of Washington, Jefferson, and Madison, the men who shaped out Nation..
You want to supplement Shahin’s article, which was constrained by the space limits of the Washington Post, not to mention the fact that he was writing on Presidents’ Day. The article details the significance of barbecues in building the leadership cadre of the Revolution in an age of slow moving information. Just think — when you’re relying on face-to-face contact to meet and persuade people to throw off the yoke of perfidious Albion, you have to get people together in a crowd. And what better way than have a barbecue?
You will, of course, recall Rosemarie Zagarri’s article, What did Democracy Look Like? Voting in Early America. She notes that
Although officially prohibited, the custom of “treating,” especially prevalent in the South, meant that in the days prior to the election candidates might invite voters to picnics featuring generous servings of barbecue, washed down by copious amounts of liquor. Prior to the 1758 election for the Virginia House of Burgesses, George Washington reportedly served over 160 gallons of rum punch, wine, beer, and other spirits to potential voters. Perhaps not surprisingly, the young Washington triumphed over his opponent.
Okay, okay, liquor may be more effective that even barbecue in attracting a crowd, especially in the particular context of elections. Who doesn’t need a drink before voting these days? And no doubt there were lots of losers vying for office on the eve of the Revolution. We should be thankful that the influence of barbecue gave us a generation of leaders who changed the world for the better. It’s good to know that Mike has picked up the torch once carried by Washington, Jefferson, and Madison. Mike, Respect.