Saturday, April 24, 2010

Can't get a rib in edgewise

I like to read Broadsheet on the bus. I'm not terribly fond of most blogs while I'm traveling because the crackberry doesn't do so well with rich text and images, so Broadsheet. Well, last week Margaret Eby wrote a piece righteously chastising Tony Bourdain for something he said in an episode of No Reservation entitled "Food Porn 2".

But then Bourdain dropped a wisecrack that irked more than amused. "Barbecue: It's like chocolate for men," he quipped, introducing a segment about some succulent, slow-
roasted meats.

Now, let's bear in mind that the title of the chastising blog was "Ladies, back away from the BBQ" and decided that it was time to "disabuse" Tony of the "notion that women like sweet things and men like meat things". Let's stop for second and ignore the weak premise, and set aside even calling Margaret out for attacking the wrong person -- Bourdain didn't invent the stereotype that men like meat things and women like sweet things. Let's focus on all this talk about dissertations regarding barbecue sauce.

Because, when you think about it, when you get into the nitty gritty of the foods themselves, barbecue sauce is simply the masculine version of chocolate. As a chef, I imagine (and it may be pure imagining) that Tony knows this, and that's where his comments came from not from some misogynistic idea that one kind of food is for chicks and another for dudes. I fancy myself a bit of a chef, and I'm well aware that there are as many different types of barbecue sauces as there are chocolates. Different regions have their specialties, spices, means of preparing them -- and we can't forget that chocolate and barbecue sauce converge in the delectable South America Mole' sauce.

Consider barbecue separately, and take in the idea that it is "chocolate for men". This doesn't mean that the ladies should "back away" from the BBQ, not indulge our pretty little hands in some beef spare ribs, or delight at licking the sauce off our fingers after a pulled pork sandwich falls apart. It doesn't even mean that more men than women enjoy a cook-out (although, they do seem to monopolize the grill with their grunts of "fire good"). What this means is that barbecue has the same elements, taste-wise, as chocolate does, and plays the masculine notes. It's the same flavors, the same areas of the tongue and brain are activated, but on the masculine side.

Now we consider chocolate. It has just as much ability to be sweet, tangy, hard, wise, bitter, salty as does barbecue sauce. It has multiple uses, multiple forms, and while chocolate makes for a better milkshake, at its gourmet roots it is the same as barbecue sauce -- except playing the feminine side of the taste buds and corresponding brain cells.

This is not a feminist issue -- unless it's an issue of telling a feminist to get her head out of her ass and remember that chocolate makes for a good barbecue sauce.

While you do that, I'll be enjoying my chocolate barbecue sauce on this.