You know, I was going to write a general post about a great BBQ contest I judged today in Nashville, but I just got sidetracked by Myron Mixon. Myron is the pitmaster of Jack’s Old South, a competition BBQ team that’s won A LOT of awards. Part of the reason is that Myron cooks sublime barbecue. But the other part of it is that Myron is so, well, out there. And in the best possible way.
First of all, his team dresses all in black. That is significant. In the South in the summer, it is a gazillion degrees out with 1,000 percent humidity. Dressing in black is almost sadistic. But they do stand out. The next thing is that Myron uses an injector for his whole hog that is about the size of a New York City sewer pipe. It is HUGE. You would think that all that liquid would just ooze out of the pig and on to the sidewalk, but it doesn’t.
Then there’s Myron’s presentation to the judges. In the Memphis Barbecue Network, judges travel around to the teams and the pitmaster is supposed to convince them through charm and complete bull-hockey that his pork is the best. They make up stories about grandmother’s special barbecue sauce and granddaddy’s special rub and most of it is all fiction. But you are seduced by the fiction, especially Myron’s. “This hog is flavorized and tenderized,” Myron says, wooing his completely willing victim of a judge.
But the hell of it is, he’s right. Whatever he does, it’s magic (and I should say he has a team who are professionals in their own rights). I had a pork entry today that sent me into magical spasms. I judged on the other side of the fence, the Kansas City Barbecue Society, in which Myron also competed. I don’t know if the pork entry was his because KCBS is blind judging and you never know whose entry is before you. But the pork I had was scented with tropical flavors, it was moist and succulent and, well folks, you’re never going to taste this out of a competition barbecue contest. I’m pretty sure I was in Myron country.
The sad fact of barbecue judging is that you’ll never know who provided you with perfection. You’ll never get the recipe and, even if you did, you would never be able to duplicate it. You are like the bride left at the altar, always wondering what might have been if you could get it exactly right. The seduction of barbecue. And Myron.