Wednesday, February 23, 2011

While at a contest...

......what do YOU eat?

We all know the stories and tales of revulsion associated with eating BBQ at a BBQ contest, especially AFTER turn in. Much has been written about the assorted foods that folks crave after a contest, one thing that is fairly consistent, it won’t be que, I have even opined in the past on this very topic and believe it or not, that story was one of the most commented on articles I have ever written, with most folks agreeing with me, unusual for sure.

Instead, this month’s article will touch on the foods that you do eat while at a contest, sometimes known as ‘camp food’. One only needs to poke around the contest grounds on Friday night to see what I am talking about. Some teams will go all out with their menus that will include appetizers and a full course sit-down spread. While other take a little easier route, opting for dips, wraps, and assorted other finger type foods. Still others, like it easier still, and will dine on carryout foods or something prepared by a nearby event vendor.

As for the WATG? gang, we have served the entire gamut at times, I guess, depending upon the situation or our mood. If the contest includes a chefs choice or anything butt on Friday night, many times we will just make a little extra for the team members to enjoy after the last turn in. If the mood strikes us, we might prepare something completely different. We have served everything from grilled New York strip steaks and twice baked potatoes to pasta or home made chili on for Friday’s dinner. All served with the appropriate bottle of vino of course.

I have prepared steamed shrimp and many other assorted appetizers for the team members and guests around the camp to nosh on while sipping cool drinks under the lighted canopy on Friday eve. I have even went the super easy route and ordered delivery subs or pizza be brought to the site, when we just didn’t feel like cooking, just like at home.

Many times, as other cooks and pit masters stop in for a visit, we invite them to join us or at least have a taste. We usually always invite our neighbors or at least make them a plate to enjoy. We have even been known to wrap a carry out package up and deliver it to a team located on the other side of the grounds, just because we know they like what we were having. What goes around comes around, I believe in that one for sure.

Our team has even been known to arrive at a certain favorite contest area on Thursday night, with the event promoters’ prior permission of course. With contest preparation not beginning until the next day, the past two years we have whipped up an old fashioned Maryland style crab feast on Thursday. The table is complete with steamed on site #1 Chesapeake Bay blue crabs, fresh picked sweet corn swimming in butter, ice cold sliced garden tomatoes and chunked cantaloupe for dessert. Just writing about that meal here in mid February is making me mouth watering hungry. It don’t git no better than that!

Another method that our team has been known to employ from time to time is known as the walk about dining method. The trick here is to mosey around the contest grounds on Friday evening around about 8-9:00. You need to wear a look of extreme hunger, which usually isn’t very hard for me, while wandering around site to site. As you can imagine, many of the other teams will be busy whipping up or serving their own camp food to their members and guests. BBQ folks being some of the nicest and most hospitable folks on the planet inevitably are going to ask, would you like something to eat or try one of these. You are in luck.

I have had some of the tastiest samples of many assorted foods while panhandling at a BBQ contest. One well known New England team is known far and wide for their offering of what is known as Damn Dip. A word of warning here though, you’d better get to their camp when the dip is served, cause it doesn’t stay around very long, trust me.

Many times, folks are even nice enough to share their recipe or methods of preparation with you. I have picked up a ton of tips and great recipes from my fellow competitors while at a contest. I guess what I am saying here is you don’t need to sweat the details as to what you are going to serve the gang for Friday nights dinner, just load your pockets up with cold drinks and take a walk. You are bound to scare up something good to eat; after all, you are at a BBQ contest. Hopefully, it will be something besides BBQ!