Sunday, October 9, 2011

Does this Butt make me look fat?

        When you walk into a restaurant and the waiters are wearing T-shirts that read " Fat People Are Hard To Kidnap," it might be a clue that this is not going to be in your best interest, health-wise.  You might even think that you're going to be in for some gastrointestinal, cardiac, and vascular trouble.   Normal people would. Healthy people would . Most members of the 21st century, endorphin-pumping, power-walking, vega-vita-juice culture to which we belong would.  I, however, clapped my hands excitedly together and thought, "Come to Mama! I'm home at last!"  as I headed straight to the bulging buffet of The Smokehouse Restaurant in Elgin, SC. 
      Sissey and I had spent a long but successful day shopping in Columbia  with our friend, Annette. Nothing works up an appetite quite like a day of  walking mile after mile through store after store, and by six o'clock, we were sorely in need of some sustenance.  Annette's brother, his wife, and their mother had suggested we meet them at a local roadhouse where we could experience some real gustatory delights.  In particular, they wanted us to ingest the regional version of Elgin pig, namely because all southerners boast that they have "the best barbecue anywhere on earth, " and we figured this claim was one worth checking out.
     When we pulled into the parking lot of The Smokehouse, the tantalizing smells of smoking pork and frying chicken were so strong they fairly pulled me through the doors. I marched straight past the stuffed bear (not sure why there was a bear, perhaps bear had recently been on the menu?) and right up to the food line. At this point, I was too far in to turn back, so I decided to push the health-conscious chip on my shoulder deep into my sub-conscious memory and commit whole-heartedly-- at least while I still had a viable heart--to dinner at The Smokehouse. I was going to sample my way through as many items as possible on the "all-you-can-eat-take-a-new-plate-each-visit" trip through the cardiac arrest line.
          It seemed to be a fairly good sign that the buffet began with a rather healthy salad bar.
         "OK, " I reasoned, " lots of raw fiber, roughage.  This is good, this is good. Healthy so far."
          I piled my bowl high and  made a mental note of the sign that read, "Take all you want, but be sure to eat it."  Not a problem here, I murmured, as I reached for black olives, pickles, and croutons. For my first health-conscious bonus point of the evening, I skipped the catfish chowder, then jumped smack-dab into the middle of the mashed potato- macaroni and cheese- rice and hash station. Just a little sample here, not going overboard with the carbohydrates;  I put an ever-so-teensy dollop of creamy spuds on my plate and  gave myself another bonus point for going lightly on the carbs.  That would be my second and last healthy decision of the evening, for it was all gastro-gourmet-gluttony from that point on as I headed for the hot lights that hovered over  fried chicken and BBQ.
       Piles of crispy,golden-brown, fried chicken perfection perched beside platters of  BBQ chicken and BBQ wings. Of course, you can't have fried chicken without fried okra, corn on the cob, fried potato wedges,  green beans and collard greens, so those delectables naturally accompanied the chicken.  For some reason, huge pans of banana pudding and Oreo-cookie-pudding-delight were stashed right between the chicken and the pork, perhaps as a subtle reminder to leave room for dessert. I, however, being of such noble self-restraint,  was not tempted at all, having already decided to come back later for the sweets.
      It was pig I had come for, and by golly, I was going to have some pig.  The BBQ was available as chopped pork, pulled pork, sliced pork, roasted pork, and of course, greasy, saucy, hot-off-the-grill, finger-licking, bone-sucking, lip-smacking ribs.  A massive Boston Butt rested on a carve-it-yourself board, just waiting for someone to slice off a chunk of meat in an instant liposuction procedure that would reduce it's heft by a pound or two.  After sneaking a quick taste while still in line, I immediately understood why the other side of those foreboding T-shirts had boasted  that "We have juicy breasts, meaty ribs, and the best butts in town."  They might have them at The Smokehouse, but judging by the size of my plate, those same attributes would not be going home with me tonight. I was quite sure that perfectly roasted Boston Butt would,  indeed, make me look fat, but I whacked off a slice anyway and added it to my plate.
     With a groaning tray loaded with enough calories to sustain a starving nation, I headed back and joined the others.  I plopped my pile heavily onto the oil-cloth table, said a prayer of thanks, added a silent plea for health and digestion, picked up my fork, and  plunged  in.
      After the first few bites, I thought,  "Yes! This is surely worth dying for!"
      If I had stopped here, perhaps I would have had some small chance of redeeming myself with the Weight Watchers of the world, but unfortunately, my slide into gustational sin was not yet finished.  There was one final stop, and it was hovering just inside my left peripheral field of vision. It was the dessert table. Now mind you, I am not one who is prone to gorge on sweets, quite unlike some unnamed people who just happened to be dining with me this night. These unnamed entities each had an incorrigible sweet tooth, and it was truly for their sake alone that I even ventured near the trays of sugar-laden temptations. Being the ever-so-helpful person that I naturally am, I, of course, volunteered to survey the sweets and fetch a few tidbits. I felt obligated to serve up some banana pudding, because it was a house favorite.  I didn't want the Oreo cookie pudding to feel cheated, so I plopped a few spoonfuls of that in a bowl as well.  The peach cobbler had to be healthy, it was a fruit after all, so in it went right beside the German chocolate cake. There, I was done, and had skipped the cookies and vanilla cake to boot!
       And then, as we sat moaning and groaning over our engorged bellies, here comes the devil in an apron with a tray of  fresh, hot, homemade donuts. What was I supposed to do? Tell her to go away? Turn my nose up at such an offering of southern hospitality covered in sugar? Hurt her feelings after she had labored so hard over a hot oven just to feed us????  Of course not! I was raised better than that, and besides,  she practically waved them right under my nose. I was powerless to resist, so I took two.
     You may as well have hooked up an IV to my arm and infused a stick of butter straight into my veins after what I had just endured, but I was happy, because I knew for sure that nobody was ever going to be able to kidnap me. I thought as extra insurance,  I might pick up a couple of those t-shirts on the way out, just as a warning to all those would-be kidnappers hovering in the bushes waiting to snatch an obese, fifty year old  cardiac risk inflated with BBQ and hyped up on sugar.
        As I drove back  home down the dark, isolated  road to Chester, I argued with my engorged, pig- sated, digesting self and tried to assuage my guilty conscious by saying this was a one-time deal.
      "Anyway, who cares what all those reports say about monounsaturated versus polyunsaturated fats?" I muttered. "I am sick to death of hearing about trans fats, and Omega fats, and fat this and fat that.  What do all those doctors know? Just call me fat and be done with it, but I sure am glad we stopped at The Smokehouse! "
       I was willing to bet  that not a single one of those doctors had ever chomped down on some real southern BBQ. If they had, they'd tell everyone to forget everything they read, go get some good BBQ, and die happy.

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