Her flight from Bermuda was set to arrive any minute now. I bobbed and weaved my sedan through the thick Atlanta traffic, six lanes full of cars, yet still moving as if through the water. Did I have enough time? Would she forgive my tardiness if satiated with a free barbecue? My car screeched into the Mustard Seed parking lot right as I answered her call. Frankieeee, I’m here. Where you? I doused my greeting with preemptive apologies, yet one mention of my BBQ intentions was enough to salve over my lack of punctuality.
The intoxicating scent of time and swine promptly swept over me before I stepped into the restaurant. The scent and the sign-out front were the only indications of this place being a dining space. It looked like a former auto-body shop, with a counter that lifted so workers could pass through for oil changes. As soon as I stepped into the makeshift vestibule, the owner exasperatedly greeted me with an apologetic proclamation: “I’m so sorry, but we are all out of free pulled pork sandwiches.” I could not hide my disappointment. My fast and furious efforts had been in vain. I was going to show up at the airport late and empty-handed to collect my friend who traveled across the ocean to see me.
“But I have some ribs. Would you like those?” It was as if the owner saw my silent spiral into the pits of barbecue despair and elected to throw me a lifeline. A breathless YES! was my only reply. Who was I to deserve this blessed upgrade? I felt the weight of the ribs in their Styrofoam cradle nestled against my open palm. Rushing out of the restaurant in equal parts, hurrying to pick up my friend, and fearing that the owner would change his mind, I carefully walked to my car.
As soon as Chantelle opened the overly stuffed takeout box, the energy in the car shifted to delight. FRANKIE! We had yet to acquire some ribs but a whole rack of them. Fuck waiting until we got home. I needed those ribs now. And I took them like a lover in the night. As Chantelle called home to inform her family of her safe arrival, her mother overheard me praising the Lord above for the bounty that he saw fit to bestow upon a poor weary soul like me. A good barbecue will do that to a person. One minute you’re swearing, thinking of all the ways that you will undoubtedly defile what is slathered in front of you, and the next, you’re praising and thanking the Lord that it happened.
The ribs were true to their name. The hint of mustard added to the sauce was subtle enough to let you know that it decided to show up to the pig pickin’, but it did not need to be the center of attention. One lift of a rib resulted in the meat almost not making it to my mouth, barely clinging to the bone as if holding on desperately for dear life. Licking my fingers between changing gears and making turns, we finally made it home. We immediately wished that there was more BBQ to be had.
Faith in Barbecue (Homemade BBQ Sauce Recipe)
The following recipe is an amalgamation of memories, internet searches, and on-hand pantry staples. Please feel free to revise as your desire and your palate see fit.
1 cup yellow mustard
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
4 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp chipotle pepper in adobo, minced
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
Ground black pepper to taste. However much cayenne pepper feels suitable for you and your household.
- Add all ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl and whisk together.
While whisking, allow yourself to visualize all of the new, delicious memories you’ll create at the grill with this recipe.
- Add ingredients into a small pot over low heat and allow to simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove the pot from the heat and let it cool for 10 minutes.
- Transfer the homemade barbecue sauce to a jar with a lid.
It’s best to leave the sauce in the refrigerator for one day to let the flavors become more acquainted with one another, but no one will blame you if you want to slather it on your favorite cut of meat immediately. Happy grilling!
Story and Recipe by Jasmine Zavala / Photography by Dave Bryce
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