Friday, February 18, 2011
SausageFest, & A Brief History of the Blog
But if I want to be more specific, the whole story is this: years ago, when I used to travel much more frequently than I do now, I realized that every once in a while when I was showing pictures to a friend or family member, I would come across a random shot of food, and that would inevitably elicit more interest than anything else. So I started taking pictures of any food on vacation that looked interesting.
At first I thought people liked food pictures simply because everyone eats and thus eating is a universal interest. But I came to realize it's not just that, it's that food is one of the only unique things that you can show from vacation pictures.
When you return from a vacation in New York City, do you think people want to see the 83 photos you took of the Statue of Liberty, an image they have probably seen 10,000 times in their life? No. Do you think they want to see pictures of how much partying you did in Las Vegas, as if you were the first person to ever do such a thing? They do not.
But the Ethiopian restaurant you stumbled into on the Upper East Side because the barbecue restaurant in the guide book had closed down, where the injera bread bounced off the table like a superball and you drank five different kinds of Ethiopian beer that were all delicious? People actually want to see photos of that.
"You mean the bread is the plate and the utensils?" they ask.
"Indeed," you answer. "Would you like to see pictures of the Empire State Building?"
"No, show more food," they say.
By the time - 6 years ago - that I went to Memphis in May with my friends Hatcher and Min for the World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest, I was taking pictures of everything I ate on vacation. And people couldn't seem to get enough. I would email pictures of barbecue to ten or twelve friends and there would be a long email chain with follow-up questions. My buddies Les and Phil told me I should put the pictures online in a blog. So I did, a blog about barbecue and baseball. Phil left a comment on one of the posts that inspired this second, much more popular blog. This is all his doing. Well, sort of.
Years later, I was watching Top Gear and eating cereal one morning when I received a text from Phil that he was in Wisconsin, eating bacon "that must have been made by Jesus himself." He asked if I wanted him to pick up some bratwurst for me.
You can probably guess my response. I once ate lunch at a sports bar across the street from the legendary Lambeau Field in Green Bay. I had fried cheese curds, bratwurst and cottage fries. I'm not sure which meal of my lifetime contained the most calories, but that had to be a strong contender. (A guy a couple seats down at the bar ordered a pizza; the bartender asked if he wanted the base to be pizza sauce or ranch dressing, the first and only time I have ever heard that asked.) And it was all tasty. University of Wisconsin football fans may be obnoxious and the propensity for grown men to wear wedges of cheese on their heads is simply ridiculous, but damn they know how to make good food there.
Phil brought me back a package of Polish sausage and one of andouille sausage.
"This is unbelievable," Murph said.
"Just wait for the main event," I said.
"This isn't the main meal?"
"No," Tracie replied, "this is the sausage before the sausage."
Tracie clearly understood the spirit of SausageFest.
"Maybe I've strayed too far from the herd on this one," I texted Tracie.
"No you have NOT" she replied. That was enough for me to give it a try.
I decided to serve the arugula salad on the side instead of in the sandwich, though; I thought it might get lost in the panini. So I tossed some arugula and greens with olive oil and lemon juice. On a soft bolillo I added a butterflied Polish sausage, caramelized onions, goat cheese and garlic-mustard aioli. (Well, Murph's panini didn't get any of that; he hates all condiments.)
They were outstanding. We all ate every bite. Except Murph.
"This is so good but I can't even finish it," he said.
All in all, it was a wonderful dinner. Thank you for the sausage, Phil.
Posted by JustinM at 11:16 AM