Caturday felid: ninja BBQ cat!

If you read this website regularly, you’ll know that I’m a BBQ aficionado.  I’ve traveled to many of the highly touted pits of North and South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, Kansas, and Texas.  The best BBQ I’ve found is that at the City Market in Luling, Texas, where they do a mean brisket with an ethereal sauce.  But the pitmasters of Chicago are no slouches, and specialize in rib tips—the ends of the spareribs that are wood-smoked in “aquarium smokers” that resemble oversized fish tanks.  You get your choice of mild or hot sauce (I usually get “mixed”), the obligatory two slices of white bread, which act as a neutral starch to tame the sauce, and about 10 grams of “vegetable” (a tiny plastic tub of cole slaw) on the side.  Another delicacy is the “hot link,” a large sausage packed with pork, spices, and red pepper, tasting a bit like a breakfast sausage but with a lot more punch. Those, too, are smoked and barbecued.

Nobody could claim that this food is good for you, but every few weeks I have a hankering for the stuff and head down to Uncle John’s BBQ on 69th street, a short drive from the University of Chicago. In this humble storefront, amiable pitmaster Mack Sevier works his magic.  And I always get the same thing: tips and links.  It’s ten dollars, and enough food for three meals.  The hot links literally burst in their porky juiciness when pierced by a tooth, and the rib tips are a wonderful mixture of crunchy outer bits and tender inside meat, which you gnaw to get every last shred off the bone. Here is food for the gods:

Figure 1.  Tips and links from Uncle John’s.  If you want to make a comment about the unhealthiness of this food, do me a favor and refrain.

Which brings us to today’s felid.  I am a denizen of Chicago’s premier food discussion group, the “LTH forum” (named after a Chinese restaurant, the Little Three Happiness), and a while back there was a thread on the splendor of Uncle John’s BBQ.  One poster, “geno55”, was photographing a tips and links combo for the thread, but without warning a ninja barbecue cat darted into the picture to snatch a rib tip.  Here’s the photo:

Fig. 2.  A lucky cat. I can has ribz?

Fig. 3.  Uncle John’s: a mecca for all lovers of BBQ

Fig. 4.  Mack Sevier at the smoker.  This man has brought far more happiness to the world than I ever will.

h/t: LTH forum and geno55

22 Comments

  1. Posted April 24, 2010 at 7:17 am | Permalink

    Damn that looks good. Where is the best place in Boston to get BBQ?

    • stvs
      Posted April 24, 2010 at 7:59 am | Permalink

      Lester’s. M&M. Blue Ribbon in a pinch. Discount all advice from any source that points to Red Bones.

  2. Brian
    Posted April 24, 2010 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    Fig 4. is not BBQ. That’s charcoal grilling. Technical point: You can’t BBQ inside.

    • Brian
      Posted April 24, 2010 at 8:17 am | Permalink

      Wikipedia says I’m wrong. Well, fair enough. But if we’re gonna call all forms for cooking meat that don’t involve boiling it barbeque, then I don’t see the point. Oh for the simple days when barbeque meant putting meat onto a flame or hot plate outside. No smoking or none of that delicious stuff. For that not be barbeque. But the plain burning to a crisp of previously good meat served with tomato sauce.

  3. SLC
    Posted April 24, 2010 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    Another delicacy is the “hot link,” a large sausage packed with pork, spices, and red pepper, tasting a bit like a breakfast sausage but with a lot more punch. Those, too, are smoked and barbecued.:

    Tsk, tsk.

  4. Posted April 24, 2010 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    Peter Singer just sent you a text message.

  5. Michelle B
    Posted April 24, 2010 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    Disgusting looking food often taste great–gloppy, mixed stuff like Chili, stews, etc. Why is that? I demand an scientific explanation.

    No real food is unhealthy in itself. The quantity, frequency, and lack of variety are problematic however.

    I eat so called unhealthy food daily, but reasonable quantities and with other stuff.

  6. bigjohn756
    Posted April 24, 2010 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    I will be staying for a week at Canyon Lake, TX in May. I’ll go over to Luling sometime and get some BBQ.
    I also intend to join the American Atheists in the rally on the capitol steps May 16th at 11am to protest the ridiculous standards proposed by the Texas SBOE.

  7. Rick Dog
    Posted April 24, 2010 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    Smart cat!

  8. SaintStephen
    Posted April 24, 2010 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Sweet Jebus that plate of tips & links from Uncle John’s looks good. Now THAT is a nuclear pile that Enrico Fermi would be proud of!

    I just want to put my face down in it and make strange gurgling noises…

  9. Jim T
    Posted April 24, 2010 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    On your next trip to Texas, I’ll try to meet you at City Market, Luling or in Lockhart. Better links in Lockhart, better brisket in Lockhart.

    • Jacob
      Posted April 24, 2010 at 11:22 pm | Permalink

      Or, if you’re in Austin, I would hit up Ruby’s (not Rudy’s), while not the best I’ve ever had, they routinely remind me why I could never be a vegetarian.

  10. Jim T
    Posted April 24, 2010 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    Also, if you are in Northern NJ, try ribs at Cubby’s better than the Texas ribs!

  11. Ted Powell
    Posted April 24, 2010 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    If you want BBQ in Vancouver BC, try Migz BBQ on Broadway http://www.migzbbq.com/
    2884 West Broadway, 1/2 block west of MacDonald on the south side of Broadway.

  12. Stan Clark
    Posted April 24, 2010 at 8:23 pm | Permalink

    A visit to Goode Company Texas BBQ when in Houston is must for BBQ aficionados. The spicy pork, ribs, chicken, and brisket are all great. So is the pecan pie – the best pecan pie on the planet. Even people who say they don’t like pecan pie become believers after one bite – also available on the web in wooden gift boxes. Definitely not good for you but “everything in moderation, including moderation” is my moto. Go to http://www.goodecompany.com/ to order your pie. Enjoy….

  13. Posted April 24, 2010 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    Anything in Dallas?

  14. Stephen
    Posted April 25, 2010 at 4:51 pm | Permalink

    Or one could cut down on the meat:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/27/weekinreview/27bittman.html?_r=1

    It comes from factory farms that cannot be ethically justified. I’m curious how atheists and evolutionists can support such an industry without the scriptural backing that so eases the consciences of the religious. As Thomas Hardy recognized long ago, a new perception of and attitude towards our fellow creatures is inevitable with Darwin’s great idea:

    “Few people seem to perceive fully as yet that the most far-reaching
    consequence of the establishment of the common origin of all species is
    ethical; that it logically involved a re-adjustment of altruistic morals
    by enlarging as a necessity of rightness the application of what has
    been called “The Golden Rule” beyond the area of mere mankind to
    that of the whole animal kingdom.”

    Other atheist, scientists and commentators like Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens also eat meat. I really am confused by this so I hope someone can help me understand it. I’ve heard all the stupid cliches and glib replies like “we’re on top of the food chain” but nothing of any substance.

    • Janet Holmes
      Posted April 25, 2010 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

      And I can’t help feeling that if we haven’t realised after 150 years we’re never likely to! It’s all about how closely related we are to our food. If you want to refrain from eating anything that is related to you, well that’s everything including plants of course, so you’re going to starve. Otherwise you have to draw a line somewhere.

      Peter Singer draws it where animals don’t have a complex enough nervous system to achieve some goal I’m not quite sure I understand. Others of us prefer to draw the line near enough to eat sheep, cows and chicken, but not so near we eat monkeys and chimps.

      Draw your line where you will.

      • Stan Clark
        Posted April 25, 2010 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

        “Draw your line where you will.” Agreed. We must acknowledge that human beings are omnivores. So are a vast number of other animals – either omnivores or strictly carnivores. I doubt if they would would sympathize with a campaign to convert them to herbivores. However, I do agree that we would be better off in terms of our health, and the health of the environment, if we were to eat less meat and more fruits, veggies, whole grains, etc. And I’m also concerned about the way in which meat is produced – there needs to be some serious research done on methods to improve that industry. But I still eat meat, just less now than before.

        • SaintStephen
          Posted April 25, 2010 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

          IN Douglas Adams’s novel The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe, the character Arthur Dent is horrified when a cow-like creature is wheeled to the restaurant table, introduces itself as the dish of the day and proceeds to describe the cuts of meat that are available from its body. The cow has been bred to want to be eaten, and to be capable of saying so.”

          http://tinyurl.com/27ot3bk

    • Stephen
      Posted April 26, 2010 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for the replies. But they don’t answer my query, and don’t address why atheist spokespersons are as quiet as the theologians of the past on animal issues. If they have thought through the implications of evolution and the rejection of religion on the status of animals, they are remaining quiet about it.

      The “draw the line where you will” idea is basically saying “each to his own.” This seems dismissive to me. While for some people it is simple food choice, for others, including other animals, it is about life and death, suffering, environmental degradation, and so on. You get the idea. Drawing the line has repercussions.

      Singer bases his ideas around philosopher Jeremy Bentham’s contention that in suffering animals are equal to us: “the question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?” So if you agree with that argument you would have to draw the line well back, say, somewhere before animals with a well-developed nervous system. I suppose this ties in with what I was getting at, which was more of an equal consideration for animals in some way in the light of evolution and the dismantling of an artificial, religiously imposed chain of being.

      (I urge all to read Singer’s Animal Liberation, if only for the fact it’s one of the classics of the last century. It came out the year before that other classic, The Selfish Gene)

      Here is something else to consider. Practices on factory farms are morally indefensible–things like the torture of sows in gestation crates for months, the year long suffering of battery hens, the deprivation of veal calves (yes, we torture the infants of other animals). I doubt anyone could argue otherwise. When you draw the line, then you are also drawing a line through the level of immorality you will tolerate. In other words, it reveals what your position on ethics is. I guess most people who eat meat probably don’t like it put that way. Perhaps this uncomfortable thought is why atheist spokespersons do not explore the issue.

      I saw an interview with Dawkins and Singer recently where Dawkins congratulated Singer on his “moral” stance on animals. Dawkins confessed to eating meat, admitting how he was less moral–it was a little embarrassing, as if he didn’t know what else to say–almost as if it was a penance that allowed him to continue on as normal. Rather than accusing Singer of an abundance of misfiring altruism genes, he was playing possum! You could tell he had not given the animal issue much thought.

      Any argument surrounding human status as an omnivore isn’t an issue for me. It’s not that we are or can be omnivore, its whether we should be. We certainly don’t need to be. Does our special place in the animal world demand a special responsibility? I think it does. Stan’s kind of acknowledging that too. I applaud anyone who puts words into action and cuts their meat consumption. In my case, I couldn’t go with just reducing meat because I couldn’t reconcile being a supporter of factory farming even in a small way. My conviction has only increased the more I’ve learned about it.

      But most meat eaters are generally apathetic–apparently like those high-profile atheists I mentioned–as long as their life style is not disrupted. Who does anything at a level beyond food purchases? In my experience, it’s usually all left up to a core groups of animal rights advocates and vegans.

      Scientists don’t seem to be helping, either. The Douglas Adams passage leads to the idea of breeding animals that won’t suffer. I read about this some time ago and shuddered at the thought because it sound like they wanted to produced zombie animals. This would be a typical step in a long line of steps in forcing animals to behave like machines (or “units” as they are called) by mutilating them, drugging them, feeding them garbage, confining them in darkness–the list goes on. The mentality of the meat industry is to abuse the victim for not cooperating. Should painless animals become the norm, it creates other dilemmas–it’d certainly put a spanner in Singer’s argument. Zombie animals would only add to the nightmare that already exists, which is that factory farms are already the norm.

      It’s amazing what evils humans are willing to tolerate, as long as they’re at a comfortable distance. Perhaps all those high profile atheists don’t know much about the topic. But that’s no excuse. With human population growth, all the problems associated with factory farms will increase. Every thinking person is obliged to know about what is going on and all the issues involved.

      Here is a very recent article from Time: http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1983981,00.html?xid=newsletter-weekly
      This has be going on in North Carolina concentration camps for years, as it does on other hog farms. If you do not “draw the line” at hogs, for example, then you are supporting the unrelenting hell they have to endure from birth. Who will stop it? I’m afraid the “each to their” own approach just doesn’t solve anything.

  15. Mijnheer
    Posted April 29, 2010 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    Stephen, meat-eating is an addiction — cultural, psychological, and probably physiological. But you’re quite right about the head-in-the-sand attitude of people like Jerry Coyne. At least Dawkins admits he ought to give up meat, even if he doesn’t have the “social courage” (his phrase) to do so.

    I highly recommend James Rachels’ book Created from Animals: The Moral Implications of Darwinism.
    http://www.us.oup.com/us/catalog/general/subject/LifeSciences/Ecology/AnimalBehavior/?ci=0192861298&view=usa


%d bloggers like this: