Kansas Snapshots by Gloria Freeland - June 9, 2023

A week of weakness for BBQ

No one calls me a heavy eater. In fact, throughout most of my life, I've often heard phrases like, "Is that all you're going to eat?"

This is not to say I don't like to eat. I do. But consuming a lot at a single sitting has never been my thing. My tummy seems to be small, prompting me to eat small amounts every couple of hours. At a single sitting, while others are just getting going, I start to "play with my food," as others have pointed out. Many hamburger buns have been left on my plate as I wander through the meat with a fork looking for one last morsel to tempt me.

But there is an exception ... BBQ or barbecue or barbeque or whatever way you want to spell it.

I think husband Art first was aware of my predilection for consuming large amounts - sometimes even more than the heavy eaters around me - when we were in Delft, Netherlands in 1990. We were sitting at an outside table with Art's mom Donna, and the restaurant was having an all-you-can eat special. Art loves those, and his mom always loved a deal, so we went for it.

And the special? You got it ... BBQ! So when the two of them were finishing up, I was ordering more. I knew I was making a spectacle of myself when Donna remarked, "My God, I've never seen her eat so much!" I could tell by his expression that Art was amazed as well. But it didn't faze me ... I just ordered more!

Art loves my potato salad, so whenever I decide to make it, BBQ comes to mind because potato salad is a common side dish. Art makes his "special" beans to accompany the meat. He often has made them when we travel and one ingredient - molasses - usually gives him fits. It's rare in Germany and, when you can find it, it is often among the coffee and tea sweeteners. The UK doesn't have it at all, but dark treacle is an almost spot-on substitute.

If he's making the main course, burgers, wieners, brats and chicken are go-to items. So that was what he was considering when it was decided to get together with daughter Mariya and wife Miriam this past Memorial Day.

But then another opportunity to eat with family members came up. My sister was in Kansas City, leaving for DC on Sunday. Art suggested we have a picnic with her and her daughter Larisa on Saturday. Mariya and Miriam decided to join us, but no one was interested in cooking. Art suggested we stop at Gates BBQ to pick up a Presidential Platter. It's intended to serve seven, and it includes chicken, ribs, beef, ham and sausage. It was $135, but Art so loves the sausage that I knew there was no changing his mind. We stopped along the way to buy drinks, a loaf of bread, plates, cups, utensils and drinks.

When our picnic was over, a stuffed and happy crew headed back to the Little Apple, aka Manhattan, as evening approached.

But the next day - Sunday - Art couldn't help himself and dug into his beans. While they may not officially be BBQ beans, the molasses, brown sugar, catsup, onions, vinegar and bacon certainly push them in that direction. I partook of them as well.

Then there was our get-together with the girls the next day and, along with some of the ribs left over from Gates, some pickle slices and, ... well you get the idea, it was another day of BBQ.

Now if Art likes something, he can eat it day after day. But that isn't something that appeals to me. But it appears there is an exception and that exception is BBQ! We had it Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and even I remarked that I couldn't believe I did that and it still tasted good to me. I had been worrying my giant bowl of potato salad would be around for weeks, but less than two cups are left. And Art's beans? An even smaller amount of those remains. I'm certain he will polish both off in the near future.

Earlier in the week, gal-pal Linda had called and suggested we visit our mutual friend and past-colleague Penny, who lives in nearby Wamego. I took her up on the offer immediately.

But I couldn't help chuckling when we saw what Penny had prepared for lunch - baked beans, potato salad and ... tada ... pulled pork sandwiches!

It might have tasted even better if I hadn't been coming off a six-day run of BBQ. Still, it was quite tasty and I enjoyed every bite. I guess I just have to admit to having a weakness for BBQ!

Top: (l-r): With the Delft city hall in the background and Art checking the dessert menu, his mom could easily be saying, "My God, I've never seen her eat so much!"; It was still a bit cool in Berlin this spring, but Art promised a BBQ. Friend Matze looks on as Art prompts the charcoal to light. Matze's son Leo is helping to fan the fire; In the end, all the smiling faces says it was a success. Bottom (l-r): Gaila, nearest the tree, and daughter Larisa, far right, welcome their Manhattan relatives who come bearing BBQ; Art has the grilling well in hand on our Memorial-Day-Monday feast; again, the faces tell the story - including Art's which is saying, "Take the picture so I can eat!"

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