Ask anyone in Kansas City what the local food specialty is, and they'll tell you it’s the barbecue.
Barbecue is big in Kansas City. But I didn't realize just how big a deal it was until last weekend. I attended a meeting of the Kansas City Barbecue Society with my dad, who has really gotten into barbecue over the past few years. He now wants to organize his own barbecue contest, so he came to the Mecca of smoked meat.
So I attended the KCBS annual meeting near the sports complex. Let me tell you, these people are passionate about their pork (and other meats). The KCBS is one of the biggest, most influential sanctioning bodies in competitive meat smoking.
That's right, competitive meat smoking.
There are huge contests where the object isn't only so smoke a mean Boston butt, but to win fabulous cash prizes, trophies etc.
There's even a NASCAR-style points contest. Of course to score points in this type of contest, you have to compete in events sanctioned by the KCBS. And, just in case you thought you would have to drive a long way to find such an event, it turns out the organization sanctions events in pretty much every state in the union from Vermont to California to Florida. There are even a few in Canada.
And talk about passion. This group spent upwards of an hour discussing the merits of allowing meat taste judges to take home doggie bags of un-eaten meat after the contests. As if anyone could manage to eat any more brisket after chowing down on smoked hog and steer for four hours.
Needless to say, I'm not sure I'm quite ready to be a part of this strange subculture. I mean, I like a good pulled pork as much as the next guy, but I feel like I have inadvertently stumbled into an exclusive smoke-filled club.
Let's just hope the beer is cold.