Tuesday, January 31, 2012

How to Eat BBQ, Chapter I

"Look you can think, yes be patient there will be some technology magic bullet. Or you might think, 'Oh shit! This is like a ticking time bomb! We don't know when it will go off!' Wouldn't you do anything, anything you could to stop it? Think about that while you enjoy your lunch."
- 'Emmanuelle', French Canadian scientist, The Great Immensity

"Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants." -Michael Pollan

Dear Mouse,

You know how they say, 'You Are What You Act'?

Well, that's because they don't. But they should. Every time we do a play, we learn, and that learning becomes part of us. Always, there is new information about ourselves in the struggle to align ourselves with a new psychology. And often we learn much from the research necessary to inhabit the world of the play. This is where I could go into a whole thing about how acting is psychology, spirituality, anthropology, how it creates the capacity for empathy and thus is and always has been of the utmost importance to our evolution/survival ... but there are more pressing things to talk about.

Like meat sweats.

Famed BBQ joint Arthur Bryant's in Kansas City, MO, where we ate last night.

(Going on a Sunday seems a good idea, as we haven't yet had to wait for a table. Or a slab of meat.)

Are you familiar with this term? Because I wasn't. But there I was at Gates BBQ last Sunday night, which (because of the day off Monday) has become Official Meat Night for our cast and crew, and halfway through my "Short Ends", it happened.

"Wow, I just got, like, really hot!" I exclaimed, reaching for my friend's napkin with sauce-covered fingers. "I'm sweating .. am I sweating?" He looked up from his meal, and with eyes glazed as a Yammer Pie, nodded authoritatively. "Meat Sweats", he said.


At Arthur Bryant's, El Directore informed me over a half pound of pulled pork that there is a word in spanish, tufo(sp?), which has no English equivalent. It refers to the alcohol reek coming off someone who maybe had one too many last night and is sweating it out over breakfast with you. I'm gonna go ahead and say that "meat sweats" is at least the english culinary version.

Though I guess you could just drink these straight up.
(Three kinds on each table: spicy, sweet, regular.)

These people are all high. On meat!

At Arthur Bryant's, I had the "Burnt Ends", which differ from Short Ends ... in that one is burnt and one is short. Haha. Ok seriously. One is (and here I'm quoting the theatre's Artist Welcome Packet) "the last seven or eight ribs in a slab of spare ribs", and one is "the blackened somewhat charred pieces of brisket ends that cannot be sliced". One is pork, one is beef (or veal). And I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that so far - so far!! - I preferred the ribs. Maybe I just like pork. And eating with my hands.

You can certainly get your meat a la carte, just a pile of animal on a plate, and many do. I opted both times for the open-face setup, in which the meat arrives over plain soft white bread slices, which get soaked through with the BBQ sauce, and coin-shaped dill pickle slices from a jar. Extra (but, come on, non-negotiable) are a couple of sides such as sweet, smoky baked beans, coleslaw (which I'm not into), or a pile of hot, fat french fries (yes, please). You don't have to have a giant mug of cold beer on the side, but you also don't have to be smart or cool. (Apologies; you can also have "Red Cream" Soda, for those of you who like bubble gum that has been melted down and carbonated and infused with Essence of Marshmallow.)

Now here's where you might be scratching your head and saying "So ... I guess The Boo is doing a play ... about barbecue?" And to that I say, stay with me.

A statue on The Plaza. This guy has had it, HAD IT, with carbon emissions.
('The Plaza" is a turreted, cream-colored stretch of fancy stores and restaurants that I read is supposed to look like Seville, Spain, but whoever thinks that is probably tufo.)

I'm not going to spend this blog trying to recap Michael Pollan's "Defense of Food" or Mark Bittman's "Food Matters", but if you've even heard these names you probably already know something about how the food choices we make have an impact on the health/longevity of our planet. Excessive meat consumption has been linked to .... Oh, here, watch this. At your leisure.

So if I'm in Kansas City working on this beautiful play about our environment, how dare I stand here going on and on about my Burnt Ends? When the polar bears are dying? Have I left no sense of decency?

Camera, pull back. Let us look, for a moment, at the big picture. And by that I mean my diet. As a whole.

"Some switch got flipped in my brain. I wasn't even trying. One day it was real."
- Polly, The Great Immensity

The Boo's Sample Weekday Menu Since Arriving in KC
(Which Started With Simply Being Concerned About Making It Through The Day And Looking Good On Opening Night And Also There's The Proximity To Health Nut Store)

Breakfast: Whole oatmeal made with rice milk, walnuts and dried cranberries, drizzled with agave syrup. Local coffee from The Roasterie: dark, bold, stunning.

Mid-morning rehearsal snack: apple, banana, carrot, and maybe raw broccoli chunks (rare but has happened).

Lunch: turkey/hummus/alfalfa sprouts/raw kale sandwich on locally made whole-wheat pita bread. another apple. sweet potato chips.

mid-afternoon snack: whatever I have left from mid-morning... another couple of carrots? a bag of cashews from vending machine?

Dinner: Seeds of Change 'Whole Grain Quinoa Blend'. Amy's Black Bean Chili. A big pile of The Boo's Raw Kale Salad (which is the stuff of legend by now if I do say so myself) with parmesan, nuts, sprouts, whatever's around. Coconut water. Multivitamin.

Dessert: Green & Black's organic chocolate from freezer. And yes, ok, Mouse, once or twice: microwaved bananas. Slice 'em up with agave syrup and oatmeal and walnuts and a little cream, 3 minutes on high, it's what I had in the house. And it was delicious.

And then, on Sunday:

L to R: baked beans, companion's pulled pork sandwich, "small" Red Cream soda, Boulevard Brewing Co Pale Ale, fries, 'Burnt Ends Open-Face' sandwich.

No, I have not lost my mind. I'm just trying something. Do I care about the planet and its future? Hell yes; increasingly so in the face of all this (delightfully entertaining) information. Am I going to give up meat to save the planet? Hell no! Am I still drinking coffee from disposable containers? Baby steps. But it turns out that trading in "less carbs" thinking for "more plants" thinking is just more fun. For one thing, it involves eating MORE not less of something. And when Sunday arrives I eat whatever I please, without a care in the world. AND remember those "second chakra issues" I mentioned? I find that at least one of them shows signs of leaving. No, not that one. But all in good time.


The Boo


Kylie said...

Ha! Love to see a blog with both Pollan quotes and photos of glorious meals at Arthur Bryant's. As a KC native, I look forward to hearing more about your midwest adventures as we wrap up a 3.5 year hiatus abroad. It's always fun to see a place you thought you knew through somone else's (very observant, hilarious) eyes. Enjoy!

The Boo said...

Thanks Kylie! Here for another month and a half, so there'll be more. Hope you're eating well where you are!

Anonymous said...

fyi - if you receive this blog on your email, click "about us" at the end and you'll get to the site where the video referred to will await - worth the couple of clicks. fascinating!

Greatstuff fun read - intriquing