The Worldwide Barbecue

The annual Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Contest is one of the highlights of the national barbecue contest circuit (and yes, there is one.

But this year’s Memphis in May was notable for its high percentage of foreign contestants. Over at the Washington Post, reporter Joe Yonan wrote an interesting piece on the trials & travails of international contestants at a barbecue contest.

The culture shock, after some initial clashes, wore off.

A Belgian team from French-speaking Walloonia got into trouble by using a staggering cord and a half of wood for their rapid-fire pig barbecue — a no-no in an American culture that values slow cooking:

The Belgian team, called Deominox, made no apologies for its unconventional approach. “We’re going to explain the best we can and hope the judges like it,” Stephane Deom, 39, the sole English speaker on the team, said Thursday as the event started. “We’re not trying to change the way we do it.” His cousin Christophe Deom, a butcher and caterer in Libramont, a town near Bastogne, is the team’s head cook.

Because of the unique miniature-airplane-hangar look of its 1,500-pound cooker, Deominox drew far more than its share of crowds at its tent, right across from a daiquiri stand topped with a giant blow-up bottle of Southern Comfort. The most common questions from the stream of onlookers: Where’d you get that setup? What temperature are you cooking at? And when can I have a taste?

Meanwhile, American expat Craig Whitson led a Norweigan team in barbecuing rack of lamb and Norweigan salmon. There was even an Estonian team, the Firemen from Tuni serving pork accompanied by vodka. In the end, everyone was happy… as Estonian barbecuer Roland Ounapuu put it, “barbecue is sex, hogs and rock and roll.”

Taking it Slow [Washington Post]
Memphis in May World Championship Barbecue Contest [Official Site]

The Worldwide Barbecue