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Thursday, May 22, 2008

"I want my babyback, babyback, babyback ribs"

I love ribs, and even more than I love eating them I love making them. I think ribs, aside from a prime cut of beef, are the best vehicle for the most imaginative rubs and sauces you can conjure up. I'm not a culinary master by any measure but I feel confident enough to put my ribs up against those who dare to challenge me, which is what will be happening this weekend.

My cousin Patrick, who lives in Bakersfield, has hosted a rib cook-off for a few years now and last year I attended. I did not participate in the competition but I did have a chair at the judges' table so I was able to size up my competition. My cousin won and my dad came in a close second, from what I remember. Something about the host winning his own competition seems a bit too easy for me to wrap my brain around. This year, the competition is hotter than the grills we'll be using as my brother in law Joe is coming to play as well. My sister Michelle has been taunting me, even going so far as advising me not to bother entering because she's "certain" that he'll win. That, along with a lifelong quest to beat my dad at something, is all the ammunition I need to put my recipe over the top. I paid attention enough last year to know what the judges look for and what I need to do in order to get their attention and unanimous vote. There is no cash prize, but I think there is a trophy and of course huge bragging rights which is all I'm after.

I will openly admit that I've put a ton of hype on my ribs, but I really feel that I have a great shot to win this. After all, it's not like I'm on an episode of Throwdown with Bobby Flay, at which point there's be a bigger chance of Jimmy Hoffa's body turning up than my victory. The mutual attempts at psyching each other out on the part of my sister and me are driving my wife crazy, to the point of a gag order regarding any "rib talk" until next May. It's all in good fun though, and I know Joe is a decent cook and my sister knows that I'm very good also. I doubt that the intimidation factor will work on either of us so all we can do is put everything we've got into our entries and get the final word from the judges.

One thing I do know is that there will be some great food and lots of fun for everyone involved, and win or lose it will be a great weekend. I think I'll even do my best to accept my trophy with all modesty, just to be a good sport and not rub it in anyone's face.....after all, they'll already be covered with my sauce anyhow.

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