My Barbecue Sauce Journey: From Hate to Love
Thursday 11 October 2018 — Category: Cooking & Food
I grew up in Santa Maria, California, home of the world-famous Santa Maria-style barbecue. Any type of barbecue sauce was the last thing you wanted to put on meat. Those who slopped that tomatoey junk on any kind of meat were barbecue reprobates, cut off from barbecue paradise, which of course was Santa Maria style.
As a result of this unspoken and probably unintentional childhood indoctrination, it is no wonder that I saw barbecue sauce as anathema, to be avoided at all cost. My whole life I had looked down on barbecue styles that included a sauce, seeing such meat as defiled and second-rate (or lower!). It took me nearly half a century to finally realize the error of my ways!
My conversion started on July 16, 2016, when I attended the McMenamins Cornelius Pass Roadhouse 15th Annual Brewfest as part of my McMenamins Passport adventure. Before heading back home I ordered a pulled pork sandwich for the first time in my life. I guess that after all of those beer and hard cider samples my resistance was lowered, so I thought I would take a chance and give it a try.
In addition to my life-long opposition to barbecue sauce, I’ve also had a long-standing aversion to pulled pork ... too dry and stringy. So I was quite surprised and delighted to find that the pulled pork sandwich was absolutely delicious. It was amazing to discover that I actually liked pulled pork and barbecue sauce. Better late than never!
I took the next step in my barbecue sauce journey the following month when I stopped by the McMenamins Old Church and Pub, located in the southern Portland metro area city of Wilsonville, for their 5th birthday celebration.
The Hammerhead BBQ Ribs, a special dish for the party, sounded both intriguing and a bit scary. According to the menu, it consisted of “a half-rack of house-smoked baby back ribs with Hammerhead / Dr Pepper BBQ sauce, served with coleslaw, beans and napkins.”
I skipped the beans because I don’t like them. Dr Pepper in the barbecue sauce sounded pretty weird, but the ribs were actually quite tasty.
A couple of months later McMenamins once again provided the opportunity to continue my barbecue sauce journey when I had lunch at their Market Street Pub, located on the Portland State University campus in downtown Portland.
I tried a “Baby Got Baby Back Grilled Cheese Sandwich” and fries. The menu described it as “Hammerhead BBQ pork, mac & cheese, caramelized onions on brioche with fresh-cut fries.” It seemed like a bizarre sandwich, but it was really good!
These three McMenamins restaurant experiences of barbecue sauce took me from hate to love. In my next article, my barbecue sauce journey brings it on home.