Sunday, December 19, 2010

A White Trash Oasis in Brisketland

LFG dances on Sundays at 230pm. Wisconsin Avenue, Chevy Chase…for an hour. I drop her off and amble around the neighborhood till time to fetch her…an easy hour to burn…there’s a Barnes and Noble three minutes away and you know that I can burn a day in a bookstore. But several Sundays ago saw the weather moderate and the sun shining.
In lieu of the bookstore I walked over to the Montgomery Farm Women’s Cooperative Market. It’s been around since 1932 and inside the market they sell all kinds of edible goodies that remind me of the canning/baking prowess of my grandmother, my mama and my six aunts. 
The vendors outside sell stuff that generally didn't interest me but I gandered about for a moment. I sensed that the original intent of the cooperative has devolved to a point where the tchotchke sellers trump the now attenuated presence of agricultural consumables purveyors.
I hope they’ll be there forever though. The utilitarian wood framed building seems to me a stalwart carbuncle whose recalcitrance amidst soulless, sterile concretions offers a reminder. A reminder of a time when “that far up” Wisconsin Avenue was “the country” … A time that probably saw fewer assholes laying on their horns as they navigated up and down the endless vista of not yet existent office buildings.
An oasis of wood framed simpleness. But then I had another breakthrough. I met…Barbecue Man. It’s 245 in the afternoon. It ain’t lunch time and it ain’t dinner time. But I don’t care. I’ll not even try to concoct words to relay the significance to me of this little oasis within the oasis. Bottom line is this…people from South Philly are passionate about their cheesesteaks and rightfully so. They know the best ones, they know how to order them and they revel in the lore and back-story. Buffalo Wings in Buffalo. Grilled Polish Sausage in Chicago, Chili Dog from the Varsity. You know the deal and the list goes on. Same can be said about street food in other necks of the woods and countries. And for me, a boy from South Carolina who’s seen a fair amount of the world, there’s barbecue.
National barbecue comparisons are a waste of time. It’s all good and everyone has their version. Vinegar and pepper or mustard based…how much sugar? Red and black pepper? Ratios? Wet or dry? Who gives a damn…let’s eat. I got a pulled pork sandwich and the only cold, canned drink my man had left…A Cherry Dr. Pepper. Five minutes of nirvana. A taste buddian dichotomy given that Wisconsin Ave is more likely to yield options for brisket than delightfully slapdash porcine proposals. It reminds me of what Michael Collier said about William Maxwell..“I was to learn that what one should live for more than anything else are small moments of overwhelming astonishment.” My samich moment was astonishing. In an eleven napkin kind of a way.

Onward. Hankerin’ for another one.
ADG, the second.


Gail, in northern California said...

One of these days, they're going to haul you away. If you're not taking pictures of your clothes and shoes, now it's what you're eating. ("I swear to you, Martha. He whipped out his cell phone and took a picture of his sandwich.")

i'm thinking maybe too many long, hot showers with your jackets.

ACH said...

That's right around my old stomping grounds! Mustard Seed (just down the road a block or so) is a consignment-esque store that often has some great apparel finds for very reasonable prices. The men's "department" is very small and in the back, but I've found great things for T there!

Silk Regimental said...

Once, on a business trip to Philadelphia, as my team was heading to the HoJo (of all places) for breakfast, I split from the crowd and ordered breakfast from a street/truck vendor - egg and cheese sandwich on a hoagie roll - it was heaven. And, really, no intestinal tract violations!

Nelle Somerville said...

What a find! Give me my dry rubbed pulled pork with sweet Memphis sauce any day! I'm not gonna fight about it, but it is the best way to eat a BBQ sammie avec cole slaw.

Main Line Sportsman said...

Oh man...a chili dog from the Varsity, and a cheeseburger...and the chips they fling in the box that joint.
That pulled pork looks delicious....who cares if it's 2:30...when something like that is right in front of you....commence gobbling!

NCJack said...

As you can guess, I'm an Eastern NC BBQ man my own self, but when that smoky porcine aroma drifts out and whups you right upside your nasal nexus...well, who cares what time or type it is, you got to man up and chow down. Lemme see, if I leave by eight in the morning, I could be at Hayes's by 11, I could make Parker's by about noon thirty...hmmmm, 'scuse me, I need to get to sleep, bye now.

Young Fogey said...

That looks like one dee-lishus sammich. I haven't had an overwhelming astonishment-inspiring sammich (or similar simple comestible) in a coon's age. Makes me hanker for one.

Anonymous said...

I love this post, ADG. It is not brilliant or life-changing or really very informative. But it is uplifting in a very haimish (that's Yiddish for homey and good feely) way. Relaxed. Not just observant or critical but participatory in the everyman life stuff. Little Women in jazz dance. Wandering the neighborhood in leisure. Nowhere to be and no one looking for you. "Roach mobiles", as we affectionately call them out here, with each their own beckoning-genie-finger smells curling out of their cramped galley kitchens. Delishables. A mild weather day of mangling with your apres-Sunday-go-ta-meetin' minglers. One hour. Mental snaps of your current street brethren. Strolling back (I am imagining this) to inevitably say something unguardedly affectionate and embarrassing to the little Jazz Baroness with that for-all-the-world-to-see love flush high in your cheeks. Grab her and flit off to din-din munchies and daddy giggles and girlish complaints and back to mom's. Work the next day. Blog to write. Routine. Comfort in that. Zen in that. It's nice. A peep show of sweet normalcy. You make us feel like we're all doin' ok, ya know? Yeah. We're ok.
***schmock*** That's Yiddish for ***schmock***

ADG said...

AnonymousSchmock...Zen it was. Indeed.

YounFogey...seems like you oughta be able to track something down in your neck of the woods, no?

NCJack...this was kind of a hybrid between our two "Carolinas". It was a sweetish but still peppery mustardesque thang but the sauce was almost clear. It was beautiful.

MainLiner...indeed, indeed.

Nelle..."sammie avec cole slaw" it's those small things that make it worthwile. Leastways that's what I used to tell Miss Sammie Avec, an "exotic" dancer at Sammy's (notice the spelling difference) in Birmingham Alabama.

Silk Reggie...I'da been right there with you.

ACH...I love the bookcases that your SFL made for you.

ilovelimegreen said...

The market is indeed one of Bethesda's secret gems - I am continually amazed at how many people in the area don't know about it. I work catecorner from it and my co-workers and I certainly take advantage of all it offers. Amazing things - edible and collectible - can be found inside. It is a great place to find stocking stuffers too!

ACH - yes, the Mustard Seed is fabulous!

Southern H and H said...

I'll fight you on the sauce issue. It's spicy over sweet. Don't argue.

CeceliaMc said...

ummmmmmm....Main Line Sportsman, don't forget The Varsity Frosted Orange. Have it with TWO chili dogs and the onion rings.

It's so worth feeling queasy for an afternoon.

ADG said...

CeceliaMc...I SWEAR some of us on here must have come from the same broth or cosmos because I am SPOT ON with you re the Varsity queasiness. It's part of the bi-yearly event. You eat it (who in the hell would go to the Varsity and only have ONE dog?) and you expect the consequences the next day.

Southern H and H...I'm pretty much with you on it. However, I've NEVER had any that wasn't pretty damned good. Kinda like something else come to think of it. time. Meet me at the trailer and I'll buy you one.

CeceliaMc said...

To echo a bit of what Anonymous said about your post here, what I like about you is your obvious love of beauty. That TRUE love nearly always incorporates a creative playfulness as a distinguishing trait.

It's always young, never stodgy or rule-burdened. It's not a mask for licentiousness, either.

It's the difference between good snobbery and bad. Bad snobbery isn't about the deliciousness that life has to offer. It's about the mirror. You can't really enjoy the pleasures of life, if your chief focus is your own reflection.

Good snobbery admires the best, but understands that it most certainly can be found in tiny ways, such as licking orange Cheetos off your fingers on a rainy night, with a good movie, after a terrible day.

If not desiring a particular "pleasure" for yourself, understanding the appeal for anyone else. Taking a pleasure in pleasure!

You seem to do that.

This is certainly not the answer to all of life's issues, and it's certainly not the highest coinage in the coffer of character, but it will keep your thoughts and perceptions interesting and fresh to others, and it will... forever and always... keep you young.

SouthernProletariat said...

ADG...Sammys?! Ewww...I felt like I needed a penicillin shot just driving by that place on the highway when I lived in B'ham

The sauce issue- yall are all amateurs. The *very* best barbecue can't be bought- its a labor of love, and *if* you are lucky you get invited over after someone has spent hours upon hours smoking and tending "the pit"...then the meat is so tender it falls off the bone and doesn't need to be "pulled" or covered in sauce or any of that nonsense. hmpf! You may have been out of the south too long thing you know, you'll be telling me Church's chicken can subsitute for southern fried chicken...

Young Fogey said...

Actually, there's a great little place called, appropriately enough, the Little Chicken House not too far from here. They have a barbecue rig in the front, smoking away in the morning. They have roast chicken, barbecued pig with an incredible sauce, brisket, and a variety of sides. Delectamable!

It's just been a while since the last time I done did went there.

I also liked the plate lunch trucks in Hawaii. Local goodness all the way. Two scoop rice, one scoop mac, and then the star attraction: butterfish, or teri beef, or chicken katsu, or barbecued shrimp, or kalua pig, or....

An' no fohget da loco moco, brah. Ono you know!

NCJack said...

Hmmm, was not a fan of SC mustard base, but the combo of the two sounds like a "must-try" (hey, "mustard", "must-try", I just saw that, MAN, am I humorous!)

Dang, now I'm droolin' again